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Experts: Political Leaders Must Return Situation to Legitimate Field in Kyrgyzstan

The lack of legality is fraught with the emergence of far more serious and dangerous crises in the republic, analysts said.

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Situation in the country remains tense. The protest in the morning of October 6 at the Ala-Too square. Photo: Daniil Lyapichev, CABAR.asia

On the evening of October 6, the power is dispersed in the hands of various large and small political groups throughout the country. In the morning, a series of resignations and self-proclaimed appointments took place in various agencies in Bishkek and the regions.

Major political forces are currently having disputes over the formation of a single government that would control and coordinate the activities of all subordinate institutions in the country. The current government issued a statement in the afternoon that it continued to perform its duties.

In the afternoon, the parliament, being the highest legitimate body in the country, tried to get together but could not reach a quorum. Nevertheless, its speaker Dastan Dzhumabekov resigned.

President Sooronbai Zheenbekov, in an interview with the Kyrgyz service BBC, said that he, being a legitimate president, continues to fulfil his constitutional duties, and is ready to have a dialogue with all political forces and provide all possible assistance to return the situation in the republic to legitimate field.

Experts interviewed by CABAR.asia especially emphasise that if key political forces in the country fail to reach a deal and return the country to the legitimate field, the country could face a bigger crisis that would be harder to overcome.

Anar Musabaeva, political analyst: “A mixture of political groups cannot reach a deal”

CABAR.asia: In this situation, what are the risks, and what should be avoided anyway?

Political analyst Anar Musabaeva. Photo: CABAR.asia

Now, the biggest risk is that the country can fall into a whirlpool of absolute anarchy. The country is actually in power vacuum.

The president made a video message and urged the political forces to return to legitimate field. However, it’s clear to all that he [president] will not get back to power. This is impossible in Kyrgyzstan. Nevertheless, the president did not make a statement he would resign office.

In this situation, the only way out is to hold a session of the 6th convocation of parliament as it is the only legitimate body, and to solve the situation lawfully. A big risk is whether the parliament can be convened so fast so that the regions do not face mass riots. We have a very risky situation now.

Comment by CABAR.asia: Zhogorku Kenesh of the Kyrgyz Republic could not convene today for an extraordinary session due to no quorum.

We are losing our state. In addition to these events, there are other risks – a north-south issue can be exacerbated. It can lead to a civil confrontation if the so-called opposition parties fail to reach consensus and return to legitimate field.

Do opposition leaders control the crowd they led to the square? What mistakes do you see on their part at this moment?

Leaders of political parties that protested against election cannot unite now. Currently (afternoon of October 6) two separate opposition coordination committees have been created; they divide seats; there are people who appointed themselves to posts in security agencies. Compared to the 2010 situation (April events of 2010, when the regime of president Kurmanbek Bakiev collapsed), this situation is more alarming, back then there was a united opposition. Now, a mixed company of political groups cannot reach a deal. No wonder as they have different interests. Otherwise, they could have united before the election.

Do these political forces understand their responsibility at the moment?

They have to. However, they don’t seem to understand. They are in a state of euphoria just like during previous revolutions. But this is very dangerous. In fact, there are no leaders, charismatic persons who can get everyone at one table and agree on further measures.

Which actions president Sooronbai Zheenbekov had to take to avoid this crisis? Did he understand the situation could go out of control to this extent?

He was late with his invitation to all parties that were unsatisfied with the results of election. He did it only after the protest was so widespread that it was difficult to take it under control; also he was late with his message, which he made after the White House was seized by protesters. He could have responded on time and avoid this turn of events. But, like previous presidents, he might have hoped he would be lucky and put down the protests by force. Overall, he has repeated the past mistakes. 

Elmira Nogoibaeva, director of Polis Asia Think-Tank: “There is no time to lose, new trouble spots can emerge”

CABAR.asia: In terms of strategy and long-term development, what conclusions should be made from this situation?

Elmira Nogoibaeva, head of Polis Asia Think-Tank. Courtesy photo.

We need to get ready for changes. If we want real changes, we must take it pragmatically and rationally. We have so many groups in Kyrgyzstan – I’m not saying parties, but groups that want reforms, changes, development of Kyrgyzstan. It’s not enough to just want: we need to understand that rational measures should be taken.

Today, we can see it was in fact the “third” revolution, whereas the society feels confused and does not know what next measures to take. It was the same in 2005 and 2010. The situation in 2010 was just the same: many leaders, men, and they proposed a woman. For one year only. So, we need to…

I’d like to give an example of Poland, Solidarity movement. People were in prison for one year and then wrote a programme. Today, we have three questions: first one is the programme of actions; second one is who will be charge of this and who will be responsible; and third one is communication. How to negotiate?

Today, Kyrgyzstan is on the verge of very big threats, including civil war. How should we negotiate today? Or with whom? It’s all about regional division!

The society already experienced the March 2005 events, April 2010 events, two ethnic conflicts. In your opinion, does the society have a collective instinct of self-preservation that would speed up the return to legitimate field?

I am not sure we have an instinct of self-preservation. If we did, we would have some changes, developments after this cycle. We do not see them in fact. Vice versa, we see negative sides of processes. It’s clear we need lustration. But we already see that people with vast experience in politics come back to it. So far, I don’t see any instinct of self-preservation, this discussion should take place. There’s a concept that tells that discussions change life, and we need to talk about it and record it.

Also, we need to understand the policy of continuity. I hope so much for lustration. However, looking at those who divide the power, there are many former politicians and officials among them, including criminals. We need to find information about each of them.

We need to negotiate. Our people just don’t know how to negotiate. If you have seven people at a meeting table here, they won’t be able to come to an agreement. This is a whole procedure that will involve experienced moderators, negotiators, mediators. So, this process will take a lot of time. There is no time to lose as new trouble spots can emerge.

Among new acting officials in Bishkek and regions we do not see real professionals, competent specialists in various fields, although we have a lot of them, including among young generation. What needs to be done to draw attention to them, listen to their professional opinion, expert evaluation?

First, social mobility. Social mobility should be available not only in state agencies, but also locally, at local governments. Any group has procedures that provide social mobility. These procedures have totally ceased. What we have is the “power of the elderly”. This “power of the elderly” is a group of people that legitimates all. Second, criminal world. We have a substitution of notions here. The authority of progressive and educated people is substituted with the authority of force. And the same situation takes place again.

We do have educated and professional people, but they need to be united. These progressive and educated people are less sociable, less associable, and less unitable. Pay attention to how political structures unite – even those who quarrelled between themselves mobilise at once – and to how the group of educated people is dispersed.

I think we need to form a request for them. Right now, lawyers are important. We have excellent lawyers who know how to do this properly. However, it is a big question whether they will take their place, be heard, be given this opportunity, or invite those who amended the constitution 10 times?

In Kyrgyzstan, we must understand: the elections were terrible, the dignity of the people was compromised, and so on. But if we don’t agree on the rules now, there will be much more violations of these rights later. Physical violations this time.

This article was prepared as part of the Giving Voice, Driving Change – from the Borderland to the Steppes Project implemented with the financial support of the Foreign Ministry of Norway.

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