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Tajik President 'Too Busy' Greeting Citizens To Campaign

  • Farangis Najibullah

As Tajikistan's presidential election approaches, the incumbent's camp has said the president is too busy personally to promote his campaign platform.

The role of attending collective meetings of candidates has instead been assigned to lower-ranking members of President Emomali Rahmon's campaign team.

But for someone who isn't campaigning, Rahmon is certainly making a lot of public appearances.

Since mid-September, just before the official launch of campaign season, Rahmon has been giving speeches, shaking hands, and cutting ribbons to open new schools, hospitals, and sports centers across the country.

This week alone, Rahmon helped open a new health center, a village school, a hotel, and an administrative building in the southern region Kulob, where he traveled on an official visit.

The president also symbolically launched construction of a 16-story hotel as well as a water park.

The tightly scheduled trip to Kulob involved cutting ribbons at around six medium-sized businesses, including a construction company, a cotton mill, and a garment factory that create much-needed jobs for hundreds of local residents.
Tajik President Emomali Rahmon on a "noncampaign trip" to Kulob on October 29

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon on a "noncampaign trip" to Kulob on October 29


The president's website also announced that Rahmon had provided "humanitarian support" for some 320 orphans in Kulob.

The trip culminated with a brief appearance at a group wedding party of 10 couples, with the newlyweds receiving gifts and cash from the president.

Similar ceremonies, parties, and charitable events took place during official trips to other regions, including the provinces of Sughd and Gorno-Badakhshan, and Rasht Valley.

Tajik officials insist the trips are not related to the election campaign but merely part of Rahmon's everyday duties as president.

"The election has never been mentioned in any of these trips to regions and meetings with people there," Usmon Soleh, a spokesman for the ruling party, told RFE/RL's Tajik Service.

Rahmon, who is running against five virtual unknowns in the November 6 vote, is expected easily to win a new seven-year term in office.
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