Voters turned out in high numbers on October 30 for what promised to be Central Asia’s first relatively democratic presidential election. But allegations of foul play were rife, ensuring the results would be hotly contested. By evening, a group of candidates pointed to “gross violations” and demanded a recount.
With its presidential election on October 30, Kyrgyzstan will make history as the first post-Soviet Central Asian nation to experience a transfer of power via the ballot box. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the process will be peaceful.
Kyrgyzstan is a fiscal train wreck waiting to happen. The Kyrgyz government is spending with abandon, even though it inherited an economy that was already in sorry shape. Foreign donors, meanwhile, are growing increasingly wary, as concerns mount about Bishkek’s reluctance to tackle transparency concerns.
A move to ban a popular, independent news outlet in Kyrgyzstan is dredging up bad memories among local rights activists. With the framework of checks and balances on legislative authority still ill-defined, activists worry the precedent is a sign of peril for the Central Asian nation’s experiment in parliamentary democracy.
A long-awaited report on last summer’s interethnic clashes in southern Kyrgyzstan has concluded that Uzbeks have been disproportionately hard hit by the violence, some acts of which -- including systemic rape and murder -- fit the legal definition of crimes against humanity, though not genocide.
This week, across Kyrgyzstan, people stopped to remember the bloodshed that led to the collapse of Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s administration a year ago. Rallies, sporting events and concerts reminded everyone of the difficult year that has passed. But lawmakers were unable to resist politicizing the memorial.
One year ago, thousands of people crowded the streets of Kyrgyzstan’s capital and ousted the country’s then-president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, seen as the leader of a thuggish, kleptocratic regime. Nearly 90 people were killed in the standoff between protesters and security forces.
In a setback for Kyrgyzstan’s experiment in parliamentary democracy, the Central Asian nation’s governing coalition collapsed even before it could formally take power. Now, the legislature remains rudderless, as political leaders enter into a new round of negotiations to produce a government.
Kyrgyzstan’s provisional leaders initially courted public support by taking steps to reverse many of the previous regime’s policies. But as they have settled in to power, provisional leaders have started to emulate former president Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s tendency to blame Islamic radicals for the country’s security woes.
A looming trial in Kyrgyzstan could bring a sense of closure to the friends and relatives of those who died in April amid the collapse of former president Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s administration. But critics contend the process could do more harm than good for the still-fragile Central Asian state.