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Kyrgyz Opposition Fading From View

Although Kyrgyzstan is the only Central Asian country where presidents and governments change through democratic elections, many commentators argue that it lacks a proper opposition.

www.iwpr.net  By Eldiyar Arykbaev

With a parliamentary election due this autumn, there seem to be few real alternatives to the current crop of politicians. All five parties represented in parliament are to some extent supportive of President Almazbek Atambaev.
When the then president Kurmanbek Bakiev was deposed in April 2010, the political parties that opposed him became the ruling establishment. But although the governing coalition has evolved since then, opposition parties have not consolidated.

The most significant new force, Ata Jurt, shot to power in 2010 and spent a year in the ruling coalition. But then it was ejected from power and its leader Kamchybek Tashiev was jailed for a while, and the party has never fully recovered.

Ata Jurt’s constituency is in the south of the country, where the political elite has traditionally positioned itself as a rival to the “northerner”. Another important southern politician is Melis Myrzakmatov, backed by the Uluttar Birimdigi party. But he too faces criminal charges relating to alleged financial wrongdoing in his time as mayor of Osh.

The only two members of parliament who describe themselves as “the opposition” are Ravshan Jeenbekov and Omurbek Abdurahmanov, both formerly of the Ata Meken party. But when they criticise the president and his government, their voices can barely be heard as the rest of their parliamentary colleagues either back the leadership or maintain a neutral silence.

Outside parliament, two groupings exist that might have the makings of political parties. One consists of followers of Adil Turdukulov, a former ally of President Atambaev who now leads protests against him. The other is a grassroots movement against Kyrgyzstan’s impending entry to the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union. Both complain that their public meetings are regularly broken up by police. 

This audio programme went out in Russian and Kyrgyz on national radio stations in Kyrgyzstan. It was produced under two IWPR projects, Investigative Journalism to Promote Democratic Reform, funded by the European Union; and Strengthening Capacities, Bridging Divides in Central Asia, funded by the Foreign Ministry of Norway. The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of IWPR and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the EU or the Norwegian government.  

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