Freedom in the World
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President Emomali Rahmon continued to tighten controls over religious practice in 2009. The promotion of two of Rahmon’s children to government posts exposed increasing nepotism within his regime. The economy remained stalled as remittances from Tajiks working abroad fell, and an audit revealed $1 billion in irregularities at the National Bank.
Tajikistan's generally good relations with Russia suffered somewhat after an October 2009 Tajik law stripped the Russian language of its status as the language of interethnic communication. Ties with the United States warmed as Tajikistan agreed to allow the overland transport of non-military supplies to support U.S. and NATO operations in Afghanistan. Uzbekistan's late 2009 decision to withdraw from the unified Central Asian power grid amid tension with Tajikistan over water usage raised the prospect of severe electricity shortages in Tajikistan.
Tajikistan is not an electoral democracy. The 1994 constitution provides for a strong, directly elected president who enjoys broad authority to appoint and dismiss officials. A full-time, bicameral parliament was created in 1999, while amendments in 2003 allowed current president Emomali Rahmon to serve two additional seven-year terms beyond the 2006 election. In the Assembly of Representatives (lower chamber), 63 members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms. In the 33-seat National Assembly (upper chamber), 25 members are chosen by local assemblies, and 8 are appointed by the president, all for five-year terms. Elections are neither free nor fair.