Kyrgyzstan’s parliament overwhelmingly approved a new prime minister on September 5, and with him a new government.
The new ruling coalition looks much like the old one. Save for the Respublika Party of ex-Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov, whose government collapsed last month, three of the four parties that made up the last coalition will stay: the Social Democrats, Ata-Meken and Ar-Namys. Also, few ministers will change, for now.
Those who have said President Almazbek Atambayev was looking for a servile prime minister to replace the independent-minded Babanov will not be surprised to hear it is Atambayev’s own chief of staff who has slid into the position, after a relatively calm coalition-forming process.
Zhantoro Satybaldiyev is also a member of Atambayev’s Social Democratic Party.
A former minister of transport and communications, 56-year-old Satybaldiyev has previously served as Osh city mayor and Osh Province governor. Before Atambayev became president last year, international donors knew Satybaldiyev as the head of the state agency in charge of reconstructing Osh and Jalal-Abad following the ethnic violence in 2010.
Significantly, he’s a southerner, which could help calm tensions between the north (overwhelmingly represented in the post-Bakiyev government) and the south.
Like many Kyrgyz politicians, Satybaldiyev has had his brush with corruption allegations: According to Knews.kg, he was dismissed from his post as Osh governor in November 2007 after investigators at the Financial Police opened a case into malfeasance by the provincial administration. But on September 5, while parliament was considering his candidacy, he continued Babanov’s anti-corruption line, insisting that “political corruption” must be stopped.
Satybaldiyev also told parliament members he was not entirely pleased with the proposed make-up of his government, but doesn’t have time to deal with personnel issues. “Let’s work for a year,” he said, implying that changes could come after that (or sooner, should the government not perform). While the list of ministerial candidates up for consideration, as published by 24.kg, has many of the same names as Babanov’s government, a number of key positions are to be filled by new faces, including both deputy prime ministers’ spots, the finance minister, the foreign minister, and the minister of energy and industry.
In the new government, Babanov’s Respublika has become, and Ata-Jurt remains, an opposition party. (As if to prove it, Ata-Jurt members rallied on September 5 outside parliament demanding that several Ata-Jurt members who have decided to join the coalition -- “traitors” -- lose their seats.)