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Legal Community of Kyrgyzstan Warns About Risks of Ignoring Legal Norms

Experts in law and constitutionalism voice their strong outrage over ignoring constitutional norms and laws of the Kyrgyz Republic by political forces, and urge them to abide by legal norms to overcome the crisis.

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It’s been three days of political crisis in the country; a few political groups are fighting over the post of prime minister. Formally, president, prime minister and parliament remain legitimate, yet none of them performs their functions in full. A series of self-appointments have taken place in agencies of Bishkek and regions across the country since October 6.

Although some former heads of agencies managed to return to their workplaces, the government held an online session today and declared it would continue to work as usual. Nevertheless, the situation in the republic remains uncertain because of the illegitimate fight over power.

Lawyers – legal experts and constitutionalists of Kyrgyzstan emphasise that the constitution of the Kyrgyz Republic provides for ways out of similar crises and all political forces must abide by the basic law. Otherwise, the lack of legitimacy in decision-making will cause a bigger crisis and may lead to conflicts.

Representatives of the legal community consisting of the members of the Expert Task Force on monitoring of judicial and legal reform published their message, where they specified legal norms that have already been violated by various political forces and legal methods to return to legitimate field.

“Regardless of the situation, we and politicians with power, in the first place, must strictly observe human rights, maintain the constitutional principle of separation of powers, and make decisions according to the existing constitution and laws that were never cancelled,” the members of Expert Task Force on monitoring of judicial and legal reform wrote in their message.

Adilet Legal Clinic issued a few messages evaluating the performance of political forces, as well as specific recommendations on approval of the new prime minister, parliament’s session, announcement of impeachment inquiry into president.

CABAR.asia asked the members of legal community of Kyrgyzstan to comment on what actions of political forces are not legitimate, why it is important to abide by legal norms, and what are the ways to return to legitimate field.

Gulmira Mamatkerimova, a member of the Judicial Reform Council at the President of the Kyrgyz Republic 

Photo courtesy of Gulmira Mamatkerimova, Facebook account

If political forces do not agree with the decision made by two legitimate bodies – Zhogorku Kenesh and the head of state, it’s likely that the situation will become illegal when political decisions will be made instead of legal ones. Political decisions are likely to be cancelled by political methods.

It means that they are unstable, not always balanced, and there’s always another force that will disagree and will protest. They are good only when it comes to taking anything by force, but force cannot stay for long. Anyway, the people will rebel and say they do not want to live in a criminal world, but want to live in a rule-of-law state. Such states are hazardous as the power can become criminalised and they will face frequent chaos and disorders.

We are on the verge of disaster now. Therefore, all political forces must understand these risks; they should reach a deal faster and find consensus. As to the president, he is still in office, he is the current head of state, and must perform all his constitutional duties.

Tamerlan Ibraimov, Director of Centre for political and legal studies

Currently, political forces have been trying for two days (the talk was held on October 7 – author’s note) to find a way out of the political crisis. Some create coordination council, some self-appoint as prosecutor general, minister, or even prime minister.  Even the parliament is forced to make some decisions. It does  not cause approval of the significant part of society and causes no trust. The way things are now is risky because contradictions between parties and political forces will radicalise even more, which can lead to a civil war.

Photo courtesy of Tamerlan Ibraimov, Facebook account

Today, there are only two legitimate and elected bodies – parliament and president. There are many claims to them, yet no one debates these bodies are legal and legitimate. 

Amid chaos and anarchy on the streets, we need to establish order in Bishkek and regions, first of all. Alternatively, political forces must come to the negotiating table, the president must appoint an acting prime minister, and give powers to security agencies as the head of state has a right to appoint the heads of security agencies.

After the order is established and the return to the legitimate field, re-election must be scheduled and move further according to the public requirements, but under the constitution and our laws. Because in current situation when everyone is longing for power, a dangerous precedent “all against all” arises. It can lead to tragic events because those who come to power may not be recognised by others, and a third party that can come to power won’t be recognised by others either. This situation can lead to tragedy.

Unfortunately, political leaders show they cannot negotiate, are short-sighted, and don’t feel their responsibility for the country. In this situation, they should put their ambitions on the back and throw all forces to establish order in Kyrgyzstan.

Don’t forget that we have economic issues, big problems with the budget. Today, when  enterprises, gold mines are being raided, the budget won’t receive earnings, and, respectively, soon there might be problems with payments of wages, pensions, allowances, when the winter is coming… It will be an economic collapse. The country is going down the drain. 

Fatima Yakupbaeva, a lawyer

Courtesy photo of Fatima Yakupbaeva, Facebook account

The parties that have mandates must get together, find power and courage and make decisions in people’s interest and for the sake of legitimacy. There were procedural violations in the appointment of Sadyr Zhaparov – he has a criminal record as of October 5, and on October 6 it disappeared immediately. Although, acquitting judgements do not come into force at once.

There are court decrees regarding prominent prisoners who are currently at large. Sadyr Zhaparov has a previous conviction, and this is also a procedural violation as such processes must be carried out in a certain order. The day before yesterday (October 6) courts were not working and they received these decisions by some miracle. What happened is an escape from prison. This is a punishable act; they were released by force, and in any case, it does not justify them.

What happened is an escape from prison.

As to the votes of deputies, they had no quorum as there were no proxies, and only 37 deputies were present. They cannot be counted as present even in proxies as deputies of one faction can transfer proxies only to each other. Yesterday (October 6 – author’s note) we did not see it happening. 

Irina Letova, a lawyer

Irina Letova. Photo: Sputnik news agency

Currently, Zhogorku Kenesh of the Kyrgyz Republic is the legislative body. It continues to work until the new parliament is elected. Despite the fact that prime minister resigned of his own accord, there’s a legitimate executive branch. According to the constitution of the Kyrgyz Republic, the president approves the resignation of a prime minister. The prime minister submitted the notice, but the president did not approve it; so, the government continues to perform.  Even if the prime minister does not want to return to work (gets ill, cannot come to work for any reason), his deputies, elected lawfully, shall perform his functional duties. Therefore, the executive and judicial branches work as usual. Given this situation, we need to strictly follow the constitution that provides for all situations. If necessary, Zhogorku Kenesh should be convened according to the rules of Zhogorku Kenesh to make a quorum and solve necessary issues.

As to self-appointed heads, I can say that after the country restores order, every case should be considered alone and legal evaluation should be made.

The designation of president is specified in the constitution. He is elected legally by results of voting, whose results are recognised by all. The president  loses his powers only if he resigns on his own or his office expires, or the parliament announced impeachment against the president. So far, the president failed to submit the notice, and his term of office did not expire, and the parliament did not make any decisions regarding the president. Therefore, the president continues to perform his constitutional obligations. It is up to him now on how he will act as a political figure and as the head of state.

This article was prepared as part of the Giving Voice, Driving Change – from the Borderland to the Steppes Project

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