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Tajik Election Law Changes Seen Favoring President's Son

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon (right) and his son, Dushanbe Mayor Rustam Emomali (center)
Tajik President Emomali Rahmon (right) and his son, Dushanbe Mayor Rustam Emomali (center)

DUSHANBE -- The lower chamber of Tajikistan's parliament has approved amendments to the laws on presidential and parliamentary elections -- lowering the eligibility age from 35 to 30 for the presidency and legislative posts in parliament's upper chamber.

The bill was approved on February 7 in accordance of the results of a May 2016 national referendum.

The idea to lower the age of eligibility for presidential candidates is seen as a change that could position President Emomali Rahmon's 30-year-old son, Rustam Emomali, for an early succession.

Tajikistan's next presidential election is scheduled for 2020.

The legislative amendments also ban presidential and parliamentary candidates from receiving financial support from abroad, or from foreign citizens and organizations.

According to the amendments, formally registered presidential candidates can be detained or arrested on approval by the Central Election Commission.

The bill must be approved by the parliament's upper chamber before it can be signed into law by Rahmon.

Rahmon, who has ruled Tajikistan for close to a quarter of a century, enjoys special rights adopted under the May 2016 referendum, including the right to seek as many terms in office as he wants.

Rahmon has been criticized by international human rights group in recent years over increasing disregard for religious freedoms, civil society, and political pluralism in Tajikistan.