Lately it seems everyone in Kyrgyzstan has become a political forecaster, each with an opinion on when, and how, the dreaded “third revolution” will commence.
To help steer the country through volatile times ahead, the losers in last October’s parliamentary elections have appointed themselves in charge of a “shadow government,” which they claim, though those elections were hailed as the freest and fairest in Central Asian history less than five months ago, represents the true will of the people.
Promising a government of “professionals, people with a spotless reputation, youth,” (without specifying whence such saviors will hail) former Foreign Minister Alikbek Jekshenkulov declared himself prime minister of this “shadow government” on February 24.
“You know that, after the parliamentary elections, people’s expectations are not yet being met. Future successes are declared. And in order not to be passive observers, we have decided to switch to active political actions. During the last week of February we came to the decision to establish an alternative government and parliament. It’s a bold and rather daring step,” Jekshenkulov said.
It’s kind of him to offer, but voters already declined his help. Jekshenkulov’s Akyikat (Justice) Party came in twelfth place in the October polls with 0.8 percent of eligible votes nationwide.
“Shadow Speaker” Mukhtar Omurakunov, leader of the Zamandash Party, which secured eighth place, gave parliament two to three weeks to dig Kyrgyzstan out of its crisis, lest, he prophesied, the revolution begin. His solution: balance Kyrgyzstan’s budget by taxing exports. He did not specify which of Kyrgyzstan’s scant exports could be taxed to offset the $442 million deficit (which would be 9 percent of GDP; independent observers believe the budget shortfall could be twice as big).
Though some are laughing at this group for organizing 15 “shadow ministries,” many still applaud them for finding a non-violent way to oppose the government. They are off the street, for now.
Could there be another uprising? Certainly. Bread prices, affected in part by international variables well beyond the government’s control, rose 10 percent in one day this week. Terrorists and organized criminals are taking over the country, the new (legitimate) leaders tell us daily. Inflation is out of control.
But it will be interesting to see if the shadow politicians, unable to cooperate when they faced the electorate so recently, can offer more than dire predictions. Perhaps this is just a hasty start to the presidential campaign set for later this year? It won’t be surprising if we see many of these guys toss out their ministerial portfolios and run against each other.