Tajik leader pledges to steer away from Islam

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The Independent Online
DUSHANBE (Reuter) - Tajikistan's new leader vowed yesterday that the fall of Rakhmon Nabiyev, the former Communist president, would not lead to the creation of an Iranian-style Islamic state. 'That must not happen,' the parliamentary chairman, Akbarsho Iskandarov, told reporters at celebrations marking the first anniversary of Tajikistan's declaration of independence from the Soviet Union.

'I can state with complete certainty that no one is raising that question. That is impossible. Even if anyone wanted to do that, he would not be able to.' Mr Iskandarov took on the functions of President after Mr Nabiyev resigned on Monday under intense pressure from the combined democratic and Islamic opposition.

The fall of Mr Nabiyev, who is thought to have stepped down under duress, has heightened concern among some Tajiks and in the West that this poor and unstable Central Asian state could swing towards militant Islam.