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Tajikistan Approves Constitutional Changes Tightening Rahmon's Grip On Power

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon has ruled for Tajikistan for more than two decades (file photo).

Tajik election authorities say voters have approved constitutional amendments allowing President Emomali Rahmon to strengthen his grip on power.

Citing preliminary results of the May 22 referendum, the Central Election Commission says the 41 proposed amendments to the constitution won the support of 94.5 percent of voters.

Turnout was 92 percent.

The amendments include eliminating the term limit for Rahmon and lowering the age of eligibility to become president from 35 to 30 -- a change that could position Rahmon's 29-year-old son, Rustam Emomali, for an early succession. They also included a ban on forming parties based on religion.

Rahmon has ruled Tajikistan for close to a quarter of a century, showing what critics say is an increased disregard for religious freedoms, civil society, and political pluralism in recent years.

Based on reporting by Reuters and TASS