Tajikistan May Get Its Own President Statue
Taking a leaf out of Turkmenistan’s book, Tajikistan may soon be getting its own statue of the president.
Asia-Plus website cited veteran politician Hikmatullo Nasriddinov as saying the time has come to erect a statue in honor of Tajik President Emomali Rahmon. Just for safe measure, he also proposed bestowing Rahmon with the honorific of Hero of Tajikistan, for the second time.
Rahmon is hailed by local admirers, like Nasriddinov, for his role in leading Tajikistan out of the brutal civil war of the 1990s.
“In that distant Fall of 1992, when the historic 16th session of the Supreme Council of Tajikistan was being held in Khujand, I noticed in my capacity as a deputy that many experienced politicians did not at that time want to take the leadership of the country into their hands,” Nasriddinov told Asia-Plus in an interview. “Rahmon agreed to take on this heavy burden of the country’s leadership, saying at the time: ‘I will bring Tajikistan peace and reconciliation.’”
To see where the statue proposal might head, it might be salutary to consider the example of other countries in the region — namely Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan — where leaders have professed humility only to then accept plaudits, monuments and titles.
In April, political scientists at the Pedagogical University, Nosirjon Salimi and Holahmad Sami, wrote an article in state-run newspaper Tojikiston and on the ruling party’s website arguing that Rahmon should be granted the title of “Leader of the Nation.”
The Kazakh parliament bestowed the same accolade on long-time president Nursultan Nazarbayev in 2010, changing the constitution to allow him alone to stand for office indefinitely.
Salimi and Sami said in their piece that the title could serve as a unifying impulse for the whole country.
There have been some dissenters.
Around the same time Salimi and Sami’s article appeared, Hafiz Holikzoda, a political scientist at the government’s Academy of Sciences, spoke out to say that the proposal struck him as undemocratic. “‘Leaders’ usually belong to tribal, monarchic and theocratic regimes, not in a democratic society,” he said.
“In a democratic society, the presidency is the highest status that ensures constitutional order and acts as a guarantor of legality,” Holikzoda said.
Holikzoda was removed from his job at the start of May, purportedly so that he could “pursue studies.”
On October 5, on Rahmon’s birthday, Khovar state news agency published an article penned jointly by the deputy leader of the ruling People’s Democratic Party and a presidential adviser describing Rahmon as a figure comparable only to Abraham Lincoln, Charles de Gaulle and Kemal Ataturk.
Democracy watchdog Freedom House has been less complimentary of late about the direction in which Rahmon has been leading the country.
Commenting on the recent Justice Ministry decision to ban the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, Freedom House director of Eurasia programs Susan Cooke spoke of “the latest low in Tajikistan’s descent into dictatorship.”
That’s one less invitation to the statue unveiling then.