Tajikistan leader finally quits

DUSHANBE (Reuter) - President Rakhom Nabiyev of Tajikistan resigned yesterday after hours of tense negotiations with government leaders at an airport building surrounded by tanks and troops, a senior MP said.

'Yes, he has resigned,' said Saifidin Turayev, a member of the parliament's presidium. Aslidin Sakhidnazarov, an MP who attended the talks, said Mr Nabiyev stepped down voluntarily.

Mr Nabiyev, an old-guard Communist Party boss who ran Tajikistan from 1982 to 1985 and was elected president last November, stepped down after a bitter power struggle, accompanied by fierce inter-clan fighting in the south of the former Soviet republic.

The President, not seen in public since angry demonstrators stormed his official residence a week ago, emerged yesterday to hold talks for the first time with government and parliament leaders who had expressed no confidence in him and demanded that he resign.

Tanks and armoured troop carriers with Commonwealth of Independent States and Tajik Interior Ministry troops surrounded the airport to protect Mr Nabiyev and the government after opposition members with guns and grenades seized part of the complex and several shots were fired.