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Date: Tue, 18 Nov 1997 09:59:04 LCL
Sender: Former Soviet Republic - Central Asia Political Discussion List <CENASIA@VM1.MCGILL.CA>
From: "David P. Straub" <David.P.Straub-1@TC.UMN.EDU>
Subject: Tajik govt hands over 30 pct of posts to Islamists
To: Multiple recipients of list CENASIA <CENASIA@VM1.MCGILL.CA>

http://www.infoseek.com/Content?arn=a1785LBY602reulb-19971117fqt=Tajikistanf lk=noframesfcol=NXfkt=Afak=allnews

Tajik govt hands over 30 pct of posts to Islamists

By Sergei Yakovlev, Reuters, 17 November 1997, 01:32 p.m Eastern

DUSHANBE, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Tajikistan's government said on Monday it had agreed to hand over 30 percent of government posts to its Islamist former enemies as part of a peace deal aimed at resolving years of civil war.

But the return of armed opposition fighters to the former Soviet state and a spate of bombings continue to test the peace.

Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov met opposition leader Said Abdullo Nuri, now head of a commission on national reconciliation, on Monday where they finalised a delayed power sharing deal agreed in June.

"All questions were agreed by Rakhmonov and Nuri on the formation of a new government," Rakhmonov's spokesman, Zafar Saidov, told Reuters in the capital Dushanbe.

He said one of the power ministries -- defence, interior or security would go to an opposition candidate but Saidov declined to give any further details.

"The government reshuffle will be completed next week," Saidov said.

Troubles still loom over the remote mountainous republic of 5.7 million.

Yusuf Khakimov, an opposition spokesman, said around 260 Islamist fighters still based in neighbouring Afghanistan need to cross back into Tajikistan as they lacked basic food and medicines.

Several hundred fighters have already returned to the Tajik capital.

"Winter's setting in," he said, saying they had gathered on the Afghan side of the border waiting to cross. "The government is not dealing with this problem."

But Russian troops guarding the border told Reuters on Monday they would use force to prevent any "illegal crossing."

A slew of bomb attacks since Nuri's return from exile in September have also kept nerves on edge.

Late on Sunday the republic's main railway line was blown up, similar to an attack last Friday. The two blasts caused no casualties but other explosions have claimed three lives since September.

The United Nations special envoy to Tajikistan, Gerd Merrem, told a news conference on Monday that the U.N. Security Council had agreed to triple the number of military observers from 45 to 120 to help implement the June accords.

A ceasefire agreed last December between the government and Islamists has largely held. But maverick warlords and widespread gun law mean neither force's writ runs very far.

Copyright 1997 Reuters Limited.