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Tajik Islamic Party Vows To Stay Active Despite Obstacles

Saidumar Husaini, deputy chairman of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan
Saidumar Husaini, deputy chairman of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan

DUSHANBE -- Central Asia's only unbanned explicitly Islamic party has vowed to continue its political activities despite obstacles imposed by Tajik authorities.

But the deputy chairman of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, Saidumar Husaini, told reporters in Dushanbe that his party will not hold protest actions in response to the latest official efforts "to prevent the party's activities."

Those include the forced closure and sealing off of its offices in the capital on August 24.

On August 27, Islamic Renaissance Party members and supporters were forced to relocate their planned press conference to a private residence in the capital after management at the Sheraton Dushanbe Hotel cited electricity problems in saying they could not host the event.

Once reporters were gathered, the party leadership urged the country's authorities to stop "creating artificial obstacles for [Islamic Renaissance Party] activities."

In a party statement, they demanded that the government allow the Islamic Renaissance Party to reopen its office Dushanbe offices.

Authorities have denied that the closure was politically motivated, saying it was prompted by a legal dispute between the building's owner and city authorities.

Islamic Renaissance Party leaders have alleged that the office was closed in order to prevent a party congress to elect new leaders scheduled for September 11.

The leadership also urged the return of open political debates and suggested Tajikistan's election system was no longer free and fair.

Militants from the Islamic Renaissance Party played an important part in Tajikistan's devastating 1992-97 civil war, which left tens of thousands dead and over 1 million people displaced.

It is the only Islamic party in former Soviet Central Asia that is officially registered, and had been represented in the Tajik parliament for 15 years until its total defeat in the last parliamentary elections in March.

The party challenged the elections' official results, alleging fraud.

Muhiddin Kabiri, the party's leader since 2006, has been out of the country since March. His colleagues urged him not to return to Tajikistan, saying it is not safe and citing the killing of another opposition leader, fugitive tycoon and opposition Group 24 founder Umarali Quvatov, who was shot to death in Istanbul in March.

Some opponents of President Emomali Rahmon who live abroad have suggested Quvatov's killing was orchestrated by Tajik authorities.

Rahmon, who has led Tajikistan with an iron fist since 1992, has been criticized for the poor human and civil rights records of the country.

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