Former Soviet republic replaces leader again civil strife continues


KHODZENT, Tadzhikistan -- Tadzhikistan's Parliament has removed the nation's acting president in a lopsided vote, replacing him with the country's third leader since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Parliament also requested help from Russian troops and neighboring Central Asian republics in bringing a halt to the civil war tearing the former Soviet region apart.


Lawmakers named Imoli Rakhmonov, leader of one of the factions in the sharply divided republic, as Parliament chairman -- and de facto president -- by a 186-11 vote.

At the same time, lawmakers booted Akbarasho Iskandarov from his dual post of acting president and Parliament chairman by a vote of 141-54. Iskandarov had spent two stormy months as head of the ex-Soviet republic after President Rakhmon Nabiyev quit at gunpoint.

The Parliament session took place in the northern city of Khodzent, formerly Leninabad -- Nabiyev's home base and a Communist stronghold -- with hammer-and-sickle flags and other trappings of communism in ample evidence.


The session had been transferred out of the capital Dushanbe because of widespread disorder, virtualmartial law and numerous armed groups threatening to disrupt the legislature.

Gunmen in Dushanbe killed the republic's deputy security minister, Dzhurabek Aminov, firing grenade launchers and submachine guns at his car as he drove home just before midnight Wednesday. He was the third high-ranking official to be gunned down recently.

The change of government brought mixed opinion about whether it would worsen Tadzhikistan's problems or help solve them.

'Our main goal is to stop the bloodshed,' Rakhmonov said after his selection.

Rakhmonov was chairman of the Kulyab provincial council, which opposed the Iskandarov government coalition of democratic and Islamic parties. Even though he was leader of one faction and one region in the country, he said, 'All regions will be represented in the new government and will be represented equally.'

Iskandarov, whose two months in power saw increasing unrest, told reporters, 'Today there are two groups fighting against one another. When the leader of one of these groups is named head of the Supreme Soviet (Parliament), I think the reaction from the other side will be obvious.'

Iskandarov, who will remain a member of Parliament, offered to help the new government, but the lopsided vote and his rocky rule made that appear unlikely.


Ousted President Nabiyev played no role in the legislature's decision to get rid of his replacement and choose a new leader.

Deputy Prime Minister Asliddin Sokhibnazarov said things had deteriorated so much in Tadzhikistan that it did not seem to really matter who was named to run the country. He told the Interfax news agency that any political leader would end up being 'a general without an army, a commander without subordinates, because all structures of state power are actually paralyzed.'

Parliament called on the Russian 201st army to take an active peacemaking role in the country and urged that Russia and Tadzhikistan's Central Asian neighbors -- Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan -- come to the republic's assistance. Parliament invited troops under the command of the Commonwealth of Independent States to help restore order.

Wars have been raging in the south between clans that have been enemies since long before the country was freed from Kremlin rule. Fighting has spilled over into the capital and other areas as arms have poured across the Tadzhikistan-Afghanistan border.

Nabiyev, a former Communist Party leader who was overwhelmingly elected about a year ago, was ousted under pressure from a loose coalition of democrats and Islamic groups.


But none of the problems in Tadzhikistan abated during Iskandarov's rule, and some of Nabiyev's old support rallied to install the new leader.

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