The People’s Democratic Party of Tajikistan will nominate President Emomali Rahmon as its presidential candidate today as the October 11 election approaches.
Rahmon is almost certain to win reelection for the fifth time since 1992, with no major opposition challengers. It had long been speculated that Rahmon was grooming his son and Senate Chair, Rustam Emomali, as his replacement; in 2015, he lowered the constitutional age requirement for the presidency. But the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impacts have put the dynastic succession on hold.
However, Rahmon’s reelection may not be smooth. The recent unrest in Belarus has not gone unnoticed in Tajikistan, leading to talk of a potential “Maidan” uprising in the capital city of Dushanbe. High rates of inflation and unemployment will certainly breed discontent, which may boil over after a fixed election—depending on the future success of demonstrations in Minsk.
Assuming an uncontested reelection, Rahmon will likely resume transferring power to his son in a way that resembles former Kazakh president Nursultan Nazabayev’s ‘retirement’. With his title as “Leader of the Nation” protecting him from future prosecution, Rahmon may take a smaller portfolio in government, from which he can influence politics through his son. Whatever the outcome, expect Central Asia’s other ageing presidents-for-life to pay close attention to the process.
James is an analyst on the Current Developments Team, where he specialises in European and Indian politics. He is a regularly contributor to the Daily Brief