Emomalii Rahmon, President of Tadjikistan
UPDATE: In presidential elections on Nov 6, 2013, incumbent Emomalii Rakhmon wins 83.1% of the vote.
He was born to a peasant family in Dangara, Kulob province. As an apparatchik rising through the nomenklatura, his original power base was as chairman of the collective state farm of his native Dangara. In 1990 he was elected a people’s deputy to the Supreme Council of the Tajik SSR. President Rahmon Nabiyev, fearing for his life amidst anti-government protesting, resigned in Dushanbe in August 1992. Akbarsho Iskandarov, Speaker of the Supreme Soviet, became acting president. Iskandarov resigned in November in an attempt to end the civil unrest. The Supreme Soviet met in Khujand and abolished the position of president that same month. Rahmonov, then the Speaker of Parliament, became the head-of-government. He is head of the People’s Democratic Party of Tajikistan, which dominates the Tajik legislature.
On November 6, 1994, Rahmonov was elected to the newly created post of president of Tajikistan, and he was sworn in on November 16. Following constitutional changes, he was re-elected on November 6, 1999 to a seven-year term, taking 97% of the vote. On June 22, 2003, he won a referendum that would allow him to run for two more consecutive seven-year terms after his present term expires in 2006. The opposition alleges that this amendment was hidden in a way that verged upon electoral fraud.
Rahmonov was re-elected on November 6, 2006 with about 79% of the vote.
The executive arm of the government is supplemented by a Security Council and five Advisors.
Rahmonov survived an assassination attempt in April 1997 in Khujand, as well as two attempted coups in August 1997 and in November 1998.
He is married to Azizmo Asadullayeva and has nine children.
In March 2007 Russian news source Lenta.ru reported that Rahmonov announced that he had changed his last name to Rahmon, dropping the Russian ending -ov (which was added to the first name of the father of men in the 19th century to create surnames in the Russian Empire), and that he urges other Tajiks to follow his example and return to their cultural and national roots. The official website of the presidency uses the name Emomali Rahmonov in all news up to March 20, 2007 and Emomalii Rahmon since March 21, without any explanation.
The added i at the end of his first name is a Persian ezafe meaning Emomali of Rahmon. It can be used to link two nouns or a noun and an adjective. For a first name, it can be used when followed by the surname.
Rahmon and Tajik culture
Rahmon convinced UNESCO to declare 2002-2003 the third millennium since Zoroaster’s birth, and in his book, The Tajiks in the Mirror of History, he claimed that Zoroaster was a Tajik from Bactria. In this book, Rahmonov also wrote:
Many principles of the Zarathushtrian religion have left a deep imprint on the [Tajik] people’s mind. The habit has been preserved prohibiting the killing of animals when they are pregnant and the cutting of trees in blossom. Water, earth and fire have to be protected from any impurity. The fumes of some fragrant herbs are still used to keep away sickness and the force of evil.
These and many other examples give evidence that in every Tajik house we may find trace of Zarathushtra’s teachings.
Let us hope in the new millennium, the Tajik people will continue to live under the spiritual guidance of Zarathushtra, the prophet of truth and light.
Rahmon is a Sunni Muslim and has performed the hajj when he went to Mecca on March 1997. He has called for closer ties with other Muslim nations in the region, notably the Persian speaking nations of Iran and Afghanistan. His reply to the critics of the election standards of the 2006 Tajikistani presidential elections was:
Tajikistan is a country where more than 99 percent of the population is Muslim. We have a different culture, and this has to be taken account of.