Tajikistan leader's son named senate speaker

DUSHANBE (Reuters) - The eldest son of Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon was elected as speaker in the senate on Friday, cementing the family’s grip on power in the Central Asian nation ahead of a presidential election.

Rustam Emomali, 32, who also serves as mayor of the capital Dushanbe, was elected speaker of the upper house of parliament unanimously, the senate press office said.

Under Tajikistan’s constitution, the speaker assumes presidential powers in the event of the president’s death or any inability to perform his duties.

Both Rakhmon, 67, who has been in power since 1994 and whose current term ends in November, and his son are eligible to run in the presidential election. Neither has so far announced plans to do so.

Rakhmon’s daughter, Ozoda Rakhmon, was also a senator until March and serves as the president’s chief of staff, while her husband holds the No.2 position at the central bank. The president’s other seven children maintain lower public profiles.

(This story corrects to say that Ozoda Rakhmon’s term in senate has ended)

Reporting by Nazarali Pirnazarov; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Hugh Lawson