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Tajik President Bolsters National Unity


Emomali Rahmon -- reaching out to the regions?

Emomali Rahmon -- reaching out to the regions?

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon has appointed a new interior minister, General Abdurahim Kahhorov, who is an interesting choice. His selection is significant in that Kahhorov is the first top official in years, and maybe the first "power minister" in Tajikistan since independence in 1991, who is not from Rahmon's native Kulob region.

Kahhorov, who has been at the Interior Ministry for three decades, was born in Dushanbe, but his roots are in the northern Sughd region, an area that usually produced the Soviet-era leaders for the Tajikistan SSR, but since independence in 1991 has been ignored when Rahmon filled his cabinet.

Analysts say that Kahhorov's selection could reflect Tajikistan's tensions with Uzbekistan and Russia. During a recent visit to Uzbekistan, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev joined the Uzbeks in criticizing Tajikistan's decision to maximize efforts to build hydroelectric power stations, the only real source of electricity available to the mountainous country.

Uzbekistan worries that Tajik use of water to generate electricity during the winter months could cause water shortages during the growing season. Medvedev expressed sympathy for Uzbekistan's concerns.

In choosing Kahhorov as interior minister, President Rahmon may be trying to bring greater representation from various Tajik regions that have until now been locked out of the top spots in government. Rahmon may now sense a need for national unity and support as Tajikistan prepares to confront both Uzbekistan and Russia.

-- Bruce Pannier

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