Tajikistan profile

President: Emomali Sharipovich Rakhmon (Rakhmonov)

Emonali Rakhmon Emomali Rakhmon exerts tight control over the levers of power

Mr Rakhmon, a former cotton farm boss, was elected chairman of the Supreme Council of Tajikistan in 1992 after the country's first post-Soviet leader, Rahmon Nabiyev, was forced to resign.

He was elected president in 1994 and re-elected in 1999 when his term was extended to seven years.

In 2006 he won a third term in office in an election which international observers said was neither free nor fair. Opposition parties boycotted the vote, dismissing it as a Soviet-style staged attempt at democracy.

In 2013 he gained a further seven-year term in elections. The only serious opposition candidate was prevented from running by the electoral commission which said she hadn't collected enough signatures to become a candidate.

Mr Rakhmon was instrumental in the pro-Communist effort to remove Islamist rebels from Dushanbe in the early 1990s. He led troops from southern Kulob District and supported the intervention of forces from other former Soviet republics. After years of civil war and violence, some stability returned to Tajikistan.

The president has a firm grip on power. His People's Democratic Party holds virtually all seats in parliament. Western observers said legislative elections in 2005 and 2010 failed to meet international standards.

Mr Rakhmon does retain substantial public support. Tajikistan is still very poor, but many people are thankful they no longer have to face the civil war of the 1990s which killed tens of thousands and caused more than 10% of the population to flee the country.

Mr Rakhmon was born in 1952. His surname was Rakhmonov until 2007 when he ordered his countrymen to drop Russian-style surnames, in a break with the nation's Soviet past. He removed the Russian suffix "-ov" from his surname.

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