DUSHANBE, May 24, 2016, Asia-Plus – According to EurasiaNet.org, Mr. Daniel Baer, the US Ambassador to the OSCE, has noted that some of the proposed constitutional amendments may have the negative impact on democratic development in Tajikistan.

Quoting International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), EurasiaNet.org said pre-vote information campaigns did little to inform people about what it is they were casting their ballot for.  “There has been limited voter education or information provided for the referendum. State television has aired short infomercials advertising the vote, and some billboards can be found announcing the election date,” International Foundation for Electoral Systems said in a briefing note published last week.  “There has been little in the way of public debates on the merits of the proposed changes.”

The United States mission to the OSCE, meanwhile, expressed worry about the potential ramifications of the constitutional reforms, EurasiaNet.org said.  “We are … concerned about the negative effect that some of the proposed constitutional amendments may have on democratic development in Tajikistan.  Two of these concern elections and have the potential to further restrict citizens’ genuine choice in the democratic process,” Daniel Baer, the US Ambassador to the OSCE, was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, observers from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) reportedly lauded the conduct of the Tajik referendum.

“The CIS observation mission believes that the referendum that took place in Tajikistan on Sunday on changes to the constitution was fully in conformity to national laws and international norms,” CIS monitoring mission chief Vladimir Garkun said on May 23.

We will recall that preliminary official figures show that the voter turnout was 92 percent and 94.5 percent of those who cast valid ballots voted for amendments proposed to the country’s Constitution and 3.3 percent voted against the amendments.   

The constitutional referendum included 41 proposed amendments and voters could either vote "yes" or "no" to the package of amendments.  It was not possible to vote on individual amendments.

The most important proposed amendments included eliminating the term limit for incumbent President Emomali Rahmon, lowering the age of eligibility to become president, and banning the creation of political parties based on religion.

The term-limit amendment applies only to Emomali Rahmon, who owns the status of the “Leader of the Nation.” 

The amendment lowering the presidential age limit from 35 to 30 would allow Rahmon’s 29-year-old son, Rustam Emomali, to stand a the next presidential elections, scheduled for 2020.

The minimum age requirement for candidates for parliament, and positions in the constitutional court, has also been lowered to 30 from 35.