Independent Tajikistan's initial government conformed to the traditional Soviet formula of parliamentary-ministerial governance and complete obeisance to the regime in Moscow. The office of president of the republic was established in 1990, following the example set by the central government in Moscow. Until the establishment of the short-lived coalition government in 1992, virtually all government positions were held by communist party members. After December 1992, power was in the hands of factions opposed to reform. Former allies in that camp then contended among themselves for power.
The 1994 Constitution
In 1994 Tajikistan adopted a new constitution that restored the office of president, transformed the Soviet-era Supreme Soviet into the Supreme Assembly (Majlisi Oli), recognized civil liberties and property rights, and provided for a judiciary that was not fully independent. Like constitutions of the Soviet era, the document did not necessarily constrain the actual exercise of power. For example, the mechanism by which the constitution was formally adopted was a referendum held in November 1994. Balloting occurred simultaneously with the vote for president, even though that office could not legally exist until and unless the constitution was ratified.
The president was first chosen by legislative election in 1990. In the first direct presidential election, held in 1991, former communist party chief Rahmon Nabiyev won in a rigged vote. The office of president was abolished in November 1992, then reestablished de facto in 1994 in advance of the constitutional referendum that legally approved it. In the interim, the chairman of the Supreme Soviet, Imomali Rahmonov, was nominal chief of state. In the presidential election of November 1994, Rahmonov won a vote that was condemned by opposition parties and Western observers as fraudulent. Rahmonov's only opponent was the antireformist Abdumalik Abdullojanov, who had founded an opposition party after being forced to resign as Rahmonov's prime minister in 1993 under criticism for the country's poor economic situation.
The Council of Ministers is responsible for management of government activities in accordance with laws and decrees of the Supreme Assembly and decrees of the president. The president appoints the prime minister and the other council members, with the nominal approval of the Supreme Assembly. In 1996 the Council of Ministers included fifteen full ministers, plus six deputy prime ministers, the chairmen of five state committees, the presidential adviser on national economic affairs, the secretary of the National Security Council, and the chairman of the National Bank of Tajikistan.
The republic's legislature, the Supreme Assembly, is elected directly for a term of five years. According to the 1994 constitution, any citizen at least twenty-five years of age is eligible for election. The unicameral, 230-seat Supreme Soviet elected in 1990 included 227 communists and three members from other parties. The constitution approved in November 1994 called for a unicameral, 181-seat parliament to replace the Supreme Soviet. In the first election under those guidelines, 161 deputies were chosen in February 1995 and nineteen of the remaining twenty in a second round one month later. (One constituency elected no deputy, and one elected deputy died shortly after the election.) In the 1995 parliamentary election, an estimated forty seats were uncontested, and many candidates reportedly were former Soviet regional and local officials. The sixty communist deputies who were elected gave Rahmonov solid support in the legislative branch because the majority of deputies had no declared party affiliation. Like the 1994 presidential election, the parliamentary election was not considered free or fair by international authorities.
The 1994 constitution prescribes an independent judiciary, including at the national level the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court (theoretically, the final arbiter of the constitutionality of government laws and actions), the Supreme Economic Court, and the Military Court. The Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province has a regional court, and subordinate courts exist at the regional, district, and municipal levels. Judges are appointed to five-year terms, but theoretically they are subordinate only to the constitution and are beyond interference from elected officials. However, the president retains the power to dismiss judges, and in practice Tajikistan still lacked an independent judiciary after the adoption of the 1994 constitution. In June 1993, the Supreme Court acted on behalf of the Rahmonov regime in banning all four opposition parties and all organizations connected with the 1992 coalition government. The ban was rationalized on the basis of an accusation of the parties' complicity in attempting a violent overthrow of the government.
As in the Soviet system, the Office of the Procurator General has authority for both investigation and adjudication of crimes within its broad constitutional mandate to ensure compliance with the laws of the republic. Elected to a five-year term, the procurator general of Tajikistan is the superior of similar officials in lower-level jurisdictions throughout the country.
Below the republic level, provinces, districts, and cities have their own elected assemblies. In those jurisdictions, the chief executive is the chairman of a council of people's deputies, whose members are elected to five-year terms. The chairman is appointed by the president of the republic. The Supreme Assembly may dissolve local councils if they fail to uphold the law. For most of the late Soviet and early independence periods, Tajikistan had four provinces: Leninobod in the north, Qurghonteppa and Kulob in the south, and the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province in the southeast. The precise status of that region is unclear because separatists have declared it an autonomous republic and even the government does not always call it a province (see fig. 10). Beginning in 1988, Qurghonteppa and Kulob were merged into a single province, called Khatlon. (The two parts were separated again between 1990 and 1992.) A large region stretching from the west-central border through Dushanbe to the north-central border is under direct federal control.
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