Tajikistan Government and Rebels Reach Cease-Fire Agreement

As government forces clashed with opposition rebels in the former Soviet republic of Tajikistan this weekend, their leaders signed an agreement yesterday to stop all fighting by Nov. 5, news agencies reported.

The Moscow-brokered truce between the Tajik government and opposition forces, many of them Muslim rebels with Iranian support, was agreed on in Tehran following months of negotiations.

Participants in the talks said the temporary cease-fire will go into effect after United Nations observers arrive on the Tajik-Afghan border, where the rebels and tens of thousands of Tajik civilians have fled.

The rebels lost power to the Communists after bloody clashes in 1992. The government forces are backed by Russia, which has deployed 25,000 of its troops in the Central Asian nation as peacekeepers.

Unrest this weekend, however, cast a pall over the agreement. Reuters reported that government forces yesterday claimed control of the strategic Talvidara region east of the capital, Dushanbe, just hours before the cease-fire was signed.

Tajikistan will hold presidential elections and a referendum on a new constitution on Nov. 6, one day after the cease-fire is scheduled to last, say Tehran Radio and Itar-Tass. The elections were postponed from Sept. 25 to enable refugees to return home and participate.

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