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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Peace Deal Signed for Tajikistan

After protracted negotiations, Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov and Islamic opposition leader Said Abdullah Nuri signed two protocols Monday aimed at ending more than four years of civil war.

The peace deal, which called for a cease-fire, general amnesty and exchange of prisoners, followed mediation by Russian authorities and the United Nations special envoy to Tajikistan, Gerd Dietrich Merrem.

In a key concession, Rakhmonov agreed that an opposition representative would chair a commission that will seek ways to end the conflict in the former Soviet republic in Central Asia.

Rakhmonov and the commission will draft amendments to the constitution, which will later be put to a referendum. It will also draw up a new electoral law and set out entry terms for opposition candidates into executive power.

The Islamic rebels have been battling to oust Rakhmonov since his neo-communist forces toppled an Islamic-democratic coalition government in December 1992, at the end of a civil war that left around 50,000 people dead.

Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, who attended the signing ceremony at the President Hotel in central Moscow, hailed the accords as "a reflection of the hopes of all the Tajik people, who are tired of civil war." President Boris Yeltsin congratulated both leaders in a telephone call to Rakhmonov.

Rakhmonov said the deal Monday was "a breakthrough in settling the conflict," and voiced hope that it would be a watershed in inter-Tajik dialogue.

Nuri said the document "opens a new page in Tajik history," and "paves the way for building a new society with enough room for everyone."

Under the accord, both sides pledged to wrap up their talks on setting up the new reconciliation commission by July 1. The composition and functions of the commission still have to be finalized.

The commission and Rakhmonov will then have 12 to 18 months in which to agree on postwar arrangements, culminating in the formation of a parliament after new elections.

The rebels had won several victories against Rakhmonov's forces in eastern and central Tajikistan in recent weeks.