Tajikistan's First President passes away at the age of 84

Tajikistan's First President passes away at the age of 84

Qahhor Mahkamov, the first president of Tajikistan, who led the country until the eve of independence and at a time of profound political convulsions, has died at the age of 84.

Asia-Plus website reported on June 8 that Mahkamov had long been suffering from illness, Eurasianet.org reports.

Mahkamov was born to a peasant family on April 16, 1932, in the northern city of Khujand, which produced much of Tajikistan Soviet elite. His career followed a classic Soviet trajectory.

In 1953, he graduated from the Leningrad mountain mining institute and that same year began working as an engineer at a coal mine in Shurab, a village straddling the border with Kyrgyzstan. While progressing steadily up the ranks of the mining sector, in 1957, he joined the Communist Party.

In 1961, he was appointed chairman of the city executive committee of Leninabad, as Khujand was known at the time. Two years later, he was promoted to chairman of the Tajik SSR’s State Planning Committee, or Gosplan, a position he occupied for 19 years. From 1965, he simultaneously acted as deputy chairman of ministers in the Tajik SSR. And then from 1982 to 1986, he served as chairman of ministers in the Tajik SSR.

In December 1984, Mahkamov was appointed first secretary of the central committee of the Communist Party of Tajikistan, de facto making him the republic’s leader. From 1986, he became a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

Mahkamov badly blotted his copybook during the August 1991 putsch, but siding with the organizers of the coup. Opposition forces at the time demanded his ouster as well as the abolition of a law banning the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan. On August 31, 1991, the Supreme Soviet of the Tajik SSR voted in favor of a motion of no-confidence in Mahkamov, who accordingly resigned his post.

After his resignation he became a life-time member of parliament. He largely disappeared from public view in the years after independence.