Tajik leader s son given senate role hinting at succession plan
April 17, 2020 09:16 PM
The son of Tajikistan's long-serving President Emomali Rakhmon was elected to the constitutionally important senate chair position on Friday, possibly indicating hereditary succession plans in the tightly-controlled Central Asian state.
Rustam Emomali received the unanimous backing of his fellow senators in the 33-member upper house, meaning he is now positioned to lead the country if his father is unable to. Tajikistan is slated to hold presidential elections later this year.
Rustam Emomali will be able to hold the role in combination with his current job as mayor of the capital Dushanbe. The 32-year-old was appointed mayor in 2017, taking on the position after stints in charge of the Customs Service and the national anti-corruption agency.
The senate chairman post was previously occupied by Mahmadsaid Ubaidulloev since 2000. Emomali had also replaced Ubaidulloev as Dushanbe mayor, after he held it since 1996. Ubaidulloev was often described as an important power-broker and is believed to have strong ties to Tajikistan's key backer Russia.
Emomali had been tipped by some analysts to run in place of his 67-year-old father in the 2020 elections. But his appointment to senate chair raises the prospect of a power transition between presidential terms, which last seven years.
That scenario played out in another authoritarian Central Asian state, Kazakhstan. There, long-ruling strongman Nursultan Nazarbayev stepped down as president in March 2019 and allowed then-senate chair Kassym-Jomart Tokayev -- a Nazarbayev loyalist -- to take over the office.
Despite evidence of family nepotism in many former Soviet countries, Azerbaijan is the only Soviet successor state to have overseen a hereditary succession. Azerbaijan's current president Ilham Aliyev took power after the death of his father, Heydar Aliyev, in 2003.