WASHINGTON, October 19, 2012 /Dilafruz Khonikboyeva, especially for Asia-Plus/ -- Speaking at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University in Washington DC, USA on Tuesday, Islamic Renaissance Party Chairman Muhiddin Kabiri felt his party is unable to establish goals because of increased supporter discord between secularists and Islamists.

Because of this, the party is in conflict with its historic identity and its reputation as the only Islamic party in Central Asia. Chairman Kabiri, who rose to his position after his teacher and the founder of IRP Said Abdullo Nuri died in 2006, believes the future Tajikistan should be one of secularism and democratization, similar to the United Kingdom. He called the idea of an Islamic Republic in this age obsolete and controversial.

He addressed the 30% to 50% gains made in the 2010 elections by IRP, believing his party has become the catchall for voters unsatisfied with the government. This includes women, youth, Islamists, and general opposition. Voters have many reasons to be unsatisfied with the current regime, in power since 1992.

Current President of Tajikistan Rahmon’s attempts to dissuade Islamic influence through the 2011 government bans on women’s and children’s mosque attendance only increased IRP’s supporters, Chairman Kabiri stated. He also said that the July government attacks on Khorog and blockade of information only decreased the people’s level of trust and confidence in the regime.

Chairman Kabiri noted the importance of the November 2013 elections, though he questioned their legitimacy. The leadership of IRP is undecided on a candidate. The options are sponsoring an IRP candidate, supporting another party’s candidate, or forming a coalition with other parties behind a common candidate.

As part of a committee of 3 political parties and various non-governmental organizations (NGOs), IRP has proposed to Parliament an Election Draft Bill to ensure election fairness and transparency. The likelihood that these reforms will be supported is slim.

Beyond questions of election legitimacy are ones of representation for the people’s issues and needs. Chairman Kabiri’s IRP is an opposition whose supporters can only agree on a need to replace the current regime, but have no goals or vision for the future beyond a change in leadership.

For the poorest of the former Soviet satellite states, riddled with corruption, mass migrations abroad for work, diminished access to education, and increased radicalization of its populous at home and abroad, the options for 2013 and beyond are bleak.