The Strongmen of Tajikistan and Turkmenistan Don't Want to Leave Office Anytime Soon

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon (left) is being welcomed by his Turkmen counterpart Gurbanguli Berdimukhammedov in Ashkhabad, capital of Turkmenistan. Picture is from the official news agency of Tajikistan "Khovar"

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon (left) is being welcomed by his Turkmen counterpart Gurbanguli Berdimukhammedov in Ashkhabad, capital of Turkmenistan. Picture is from the official news agency of Tajikistan “Khovar”

Two Central Asian countries, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, started the new year off with talk of amending their constitutions to prolong their incumbent leaders’ grip on power.

In Tajikistan, where presidents are limited to two consecutive terms (although current President Emomali Rahmon has won four elections, changing the constitution twice to be eligible), the new rumored changes might remove the term limits for the so-called “Leader of the Nation.” They would also double his family’s chances to keep power by lowering the age limit from current 35 to 30, which would make Rahmon’s son, Rustam, also to be eligible for the presidency. Rustam Emomali, 28, is the head of the powerful Anti-Corruption Agency, and a few days ago was re-elected as the president of the Tajikistan Football Federation.

The news was not unexpected for citizens of the poorest country in the former Soviet Union, which recently was also named the country most vulnerable to hunger in the post-Soviet territories.

In reaction to the news, Facebook user Mahina wrote:

Нужно переименовать Республика Таджикистан на “Королевство Таджикистан

Time to rename the Republic of Tajikistan as the Kingdom of Tajikistan

While Zarrina asked:

Почему бы вообще эту статью не убрать из конституции? Все равно ведь выборов как таковых нет, зачем засорять конституцию

Why don’t they just remove this article [mandating term limits] fully from the constitution? Anyway, there are no real elections, so why fill the constitution with trash?

Meanwhile, in Turkmenistan…

That suggestion isn't so far out of the realm of possibility, at least in Turkmenistan. Turkmen President Gurbanguli Berdimukhammedov recently ordered his government to speed up constitutional changes. Although no details about the nature of the changes were given, media speculated about an attempt to increase the presidential term from the current five years to seven years.

There are no term limits in the country, whose leader just few months ago built a huge golden monument of himself in the centre of his capital.

Commenting on the development, Web user Michael recalled:

Ниязов в своё время назначил себя пожизненным президентом, дабы не тратить бюджетные деньги на выборы. Так что Гурбангулы Мяликгулыевичу есть на кого ровняться.

Niyazov [former Turkmen leader, whose presidency only came to an end with his death] appointed himself a life president to save budget money on elections. So, Gurbanguli Berdimukhammedov could do the same.

‘Better to directly announce yourself immortals’

But not everyone seemed unhappy with the possible changes in Tajikistan:

Молодец! Браво Лидеру нации. Не каждому оно доно. Любой из Вас был бы на его месте зделал бы тоже самое. А Вы нечего неможете только гавкаете зря. Мне интересно ваши возмущение кто то услышит. Лучше бы стремились бы чему небудь лучшему. А чтобы доказать что Вы дети своей страны для этого нужно зделать для этой страны в потом что-то говорить!

Kudos to the Leader of the Nation! Not everyone has this luck. Any of you in his place would do the same. You cannot do anything, but just bark. I wonder if anyone listens to your perturbation. Better if you do something good to prove that you are children of this country.

اغوا و شور نیندازید Ozodi ، اینکه سن پایین برده می شود کار بسیار خوبی است. موسفیدان باید نصیحت و استراحت کنند. اساسش، جوان لیاقت داشته باشد.

Do not make provocations, Radio Liberty! It is a good idea to lower the age limit. Old men should have rest and give advice. More important that the young guy should be talented.

While one Web user anonymously ironized:

Так чего мелочиться, надо сразу бессмертными себя назначать и смерти законно запретить их посещать

Why trifle? Better to directly announce yourself immortals and ban death from coming for them.

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