World Bulletin / News Desk
Tajikistan's parliament voted on Tuesday to introduce jail terms of up to five years for publicly insulting reigning autocrat President Emomali Rakhmon amid a increasing crackdown in the country.
The parliamentary press service said that the members of the 33-strong upper house passed the law unanimously following full endorsement from the 66-member lower house last month.
Previously, individuals could be punished with a fine or up to one year of correctional work for insulting the president.
However, the latest amendments apply only to the 'Leader of the Nation, Founder of Peace and National Unity', which is a title bestowed on Rakhmon personally by parliament last year, rather than to the presidency.
The 64-year-old ruler must now sign the amendments into law.
Rakhmon, who led his impoverished Central Asian country out of a five-year civil war that ended in 1997 is currently the subject of a blossoming personality cult.
In May the ex-Soviet republic passed via referendum constitutional changes that allow him to run for office repeatedly, paving the way for a life-long rule.
Another change saw the age requirement for presidential candidates lowered to 30 in a move that may have been intended to benefit his 28-year-old son, Rustam Emomali.
As the country has struggled amid economic malaise in Russia, where around a million Tajiks live and work, the government has cracked down on political opposition.
Tajikistan is a secular, majority-Muslim country that shares a 1300-kilometre (800-mile) long border with Afghanistan to the south and also abuts China, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
afpLast Mod: 08 Kasım 2016, 17:29