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By Firuza Azizova
DUSHANBE – Two opposition parties held pre-election conferences December 19 to select candidates and unveil their platforms ahead of the Februrary 28 parliamentary elections.
The Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (PIRT), and the Social Democratic Party (SDPT) announced lists of 22 candidates for the Madjlisi namoyandagon, the lower chamber of parliament.
PIRT chairman Muhiddin Kabiri said his party has grown and expects to do better in the upcoming elections.
“In the last elections, we had only 20,000 members and we received about 10 percent (of the vote), and now our party has 35,000 members, so we hope the number of votes in the elections will increase by the same number”, Kabiri told Central Asia Online. The party currently has two seats in the Madjlisi namoyandagon.
According to Kabiri, the PIRT will campaign on improving the political, social-economic and cultural situation in Tajikistan. He said they will propose a major change in government personnel, formation of a new ministry for defending the right of Tajik migrant workers, and an anti-corruption campaign.
The Social-Democratic Party of Tajikistan’s (SDPT) list of 22 candidates includes former judge Batan Abdurahmonov, former State Customs Committee Chairman Makhmudjhon Kosimov, and nuclear physicist Faiz Nurmurodov.
According to SPDT party leader Rakhmatillo Zoyirov, the party candidate list could change if individual candidates decide to run in single-representative districts.
“Our party has a very good chance to raise itself up through the elections to a significant level and our own tactics. But our problem is that the Election Commission is in the hands of the local executive government, and to the extent that they interfere with the voting and engage in falsification, the Social-Democratic party will suffer”, Zoyirov told Central Asia Online.
The SDPT has yet to win a seat in the parliament since its founding in 1998.
PIRT is the only legal Islamist party in Central Asia and began advocating its platform before the collapse of the Soviet Union, resulting in surveillance of leader, Said Abdullo Nuri. During the civil war, PIRT was a member of the united Tajik opposition. In 1997 Nuri and Tajik President Emomali Rahmon signed a peace agreement. Nuri died of cancer in 2006
Deputies in the 63-seat Madjlisi namoyandagon are elected for five years. Elections to the 33-seat upper-chamber Madjlisi milli take place March 25, with 25 deputies elected by local milli, and eight appointed by the president.
There are eight political parties registered in Tajikistan. The other parties are the Communist Party, the Democratic Party, the Socialist Party, the Party of Economic Reform, and the Agrarian Party.