Tajikistan: President’s Son Named Dushanbe Mayor
The 29-year old son of Tajikistan’s president continued his speedy ascendancy through high office on January 12 with his appointment as mayor of the capital city.
Rustam Emomali will take over from the long-serving Mahmadsaid Ubaidulloev, an ultimate insider who has run Dushanbe for 19 years.
A statement on the president’s website notes that Ubaidulloev’s three deputies also resigned their “of their own will,” ensuring that Emomali will be able to smoothly move in his own team.
Nothing in Emomali’s professional background gives any indication he has the requisite skill-set to manage a city that is home to hundreds of thousands of people.
He graduated from the Tajik National University in 2008 with a degree in international economic relations and also did some courses at the foreign ministry’s diplomatic academy. In 2011, he completed legal studies at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration in Moscow.
He has served as head of the anti-corruption agency since 2015, prior to which he led the state customs service.
Despite his youth, Emomali already holds the rank of general. This is a particularly remarkable achievement considering he has not served a single day in the armed forces, as countless young Tajiks are required to do by law. None of the normal get-out exemptions from military service appear to apply to Emomali. He is not the only son in his family and is not known to suffer of any debilitating conditions. A real mystery.
The pieces are all falling into place.
It now only remains to be seen what happens with the Senate, which is currently chaired by Ubaidulloev. If the now ex-mayor decides to quit that job “of his own will” as well, Emomali may claim the post, in effect making him the formal successor to his father.
A referendum last year ensured changes to the constitution to lower the age at which candidates can stand for president to 30, from the current 35. That provision allows Emomali to stand at the next presidential vote, scheduled for 2020. Emomali will be 33 when that election is due to happen.
Despite Emomali being so close to assuming power, little certain is known about him, other than he is something of a playboy figure with a volatile temper.
Over the course of his entire career, Emomali has managed to successfully avoid all encounters with the media. Press conferences held by the government departments where he has served have as a matter of course been handled by his minions.
That said, he has been regularly seen tagging along with his father, President Emomali Rahmon, at public events in the last year or so.
There is also a clan dimension to all this. Ubaidulloev was the last remaining high-ranking holdout of the Farkhor clan in Dushanbe. Farkhor is the name of a town and district in the southern Khatlon region from which Ubaidulloev hails. With Emomali in place, Dushanbe has become an exclusive fiefdom of the Danghara clan, so-called for Rahmon’s home town, which is also in the Khatlon region.
Indeed, Emomali is not the only one of the president’s seven daughters and two sons with a plum job. Ozoda Emomali, one of the daughters, is the head of the presidential administration, while another, Rukhshona, works in the Foreign Ministry’s office for international relations. Meanwhile, son-in-law Jamoliddin Nuralivev is deputy chairman of the National Bank and is reputed to control all manner of lucrative businesses.
Kamila Ibragimova is the pseudonym for a journalist in Tajikistan.