Tajikistan okays constitutional changes ending president’s term limit

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DUSHANBE, Tajikistan: Voters in Tajikistan have overwhelmingly endorsed changes to the Central Asian country’s constitution allowing President Emomali Rakhmon to run for an unlimited number of terms, the elections commission said on Monday. In a statement, the Central Election Commission (CEC) said that 94.5 percent of votes cast in Sunday’s referendum had backed the 40 constitutional changes, while only 3.3 percent were against. Turnout stood in the former Soviet state stood at 92 percent, or just over 4 million people, the CEC said. As well as lifting the term limit for Rakhmon, the amendments also lower the minimum age for presidential candidates from 35 to 30, and ban the formation of religion-based parties. The 63-year-old autocrat has ruled Tajikistan for nearly a quarter of a century, demonstrating what critics say is an increased disregard for religious freedoms, civil society and political pluralism in recent years. But residents voting on Sunday in the near million-strong Tajik capital of Dushanbe appeared enthusiastic in their support for Rakhmon, who led the country out of a five-year civil war that began in 1992, less than a year after independence.

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AFP

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