The ruling coalition in Kyrgyzstan’s five-party parliament that collapsed on March 18 has reunited, comprising the same three parties.
“Unity Before Happiness,” as the last coalition was known, fell apart when Ata-Meken party leader Omurbek Tekebayev led his party out of the alliance after fighting for months with Prime Minister Jantoro Satybaldiyev over the fate of a Canadian-owned gold mine. Satybaldiyev spent much of his time in office battling accusations of corruption. But such recriminations are so frequently leveled within Kyrgyzstan’s parliament that its members are widely seen as more concerned with personal enrichment than tackling Kyrgyzstan’s urgent economic problems. (A poll of 1,500 Kyrgyz conducted in February found 75 percent believed parliament was either “very corrupt” or “somewhat corrupt.”)
Nevertheless, on March 31 the Social Democrats, members of Ata-Meken and Ar-Namys came together to form the lofty-sounding “For Strengthening Statehood” coalition.
Former First Deputy Prime Minister Joomart Otorbaev (currently acting prime minister) is the shoo-in candidate to lead the new government, which should be announced on April 2 and is unlikely to change much. A dapper physicist who once ran Philips’s operations in Central Asia and then took a senior post with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London, Otorbaev is widely considered well suited to address Kyrgyzstan’s systemic economic problems. He would be the fourth prime minister since parliamentary elections in late 2010.
But those qualifications make him suspect to somein Kyrgyzstan’s parliament, where Otorbaev has been criticized for not understanding the Kyrgyz people enough to lead the nation’s government: As one lawmaker pointed out, the English-speaking former executive doesn’t know how to dry apricots or tend cattle.