President of Tajikistan 'removed from power'

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The Independent Online
Moscow (Reuter) - The President of Tajikistan, Rakhom Nabiyev, has been removed from power, a statement read out on Tajik Radio said yesterday.

The statement, monitored by the BBC, said the parliamentary leadership and the cabinet had no confidence in Mr Nabiyev, who was elected in November. His whereabouts have been unknown since armed opposition militants occupied his official residence in the capital, Dushanbe, on Monday and took ministers hostage. '(They) consider that he has in fact been removed from power and that from now on it is not possible for him to perform his duties,' said the statement. Radio Tajikistan said it was issued in the name of the parliamentary presidium and the cabinet.

In the south of the country a virtual civil war has broken out between supporters of Mr Nabiyev and opposition forces drawing weapons from smugglers crossing the border from Afghanistan.

Earlier, Nega news agency said the government was to strip Mr Nabiyev of his powers and appealed to Russia not to send troops in his support. Nega said the ministers taken hostage were released early yesterday and had begun joint talks with the leadership of parliament on Mr Nabiyev's future.

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