Tajik President Emomali Rahmon has appointed his daughter as his chief of staff, the latest in a series of moves that appear aimed at consolidating power in his family for years to come.
Ozoda Rahmon’s appointment as head of the presidential administration was announced on January 27.
One of the long-ruling Rahmon’s seven daughters, 38-year-old Ozoda Rahmon has served as first deputy foreign minister since May 2014.
She graduated from Tajikistan’s National University before studying in the United States in 2004-06.
Her father has been the Central Asian country’s head of state since 1992, the year after it gained independence in the Soviet breakup.
In late December, Rahmon signed a law that gave him the title “Leader of the Nation” and granted him and his family lifelong immunity from prosecution. If a separate legislative change is approved by referendum, it will also allow him to run for reelection an unlimited number of times.
But Rahmon, 63, may have other plans for keeping power in the family in future. Last week, lawmakers approved a constitutional amendment that would lower the minimum age for presidents from 35 to 30.
That proposal is widely seen as designed to enable the elder of Rahmon’s two sons, 28-year-old Rustam Emomali, to run in the next election in 2020. It is also subject to approval in a referendum whose outcome is all but assured in the tightly controlled country, but no date has been set.
Rustam Emomali was appointed as head of the state anticorruption agency last year, after running Tajikistan’s Customs Service since 2013.
Elections in Tajikistan have been marred by widespread allegations of fraud.
Many of Rahmon’s relatives hold important official positions or control lucrative businesses in the country, one of the poorest in the former Soviet Union.
Ozoda Rahmon’s husband, Jamollidin Nuralizoda, is deputy head of Tajikistan’s National Bank, the central bank.
The president’s brother-in-law, Hasan Asadullozoda, runs the country’s largest commercial bank, Oriyonbank, and reportedly controls sales of aluminum, a key export commodity.
A collective farm manager in the Soviet era, Rahmon is one of several Central Asian presidents who have been in power for many years, tolerate little dissent, and are accused of rights abuses by international advocacy groups and critics at home.