Author Sandro

16.10.2020 18:57

What Drives The Protests in Kyrgyzstan?

A struggle for power or a democratic process? — This question is worrying everyone who is following the current events in Kyrgyzstan. 

This is Kyrgyzstan’s third revolution in the last 15 years.  However, some experts disagree with this assessment. They believe that with every new revolution one ruling power replaces another, while the system remains unchanged. 



Annulled Elections 

Kyrgyzstan held parliamentary elections on October 4. According to the Central Election Commission (CEC) data, the "Unity" party, which supports President Sooronbay Zheenbekov, won 24% of the vote. The second pro-government party "Mekine Kyrgyzstan"(My Homeland Kyrgyzstan) received almost the same amount of votes. In addition, two other parties crossed the national electoral threshold of 7%. 

As soon as the results were announced, thousands of people took to the streets, calling for re-elections and the resignation of the president. Observers, political parties, and civil activists spoke of gross violations.

After civil unrest and clashes with the police, the CEC indeed annulled the election results. But for a completely different reason. According to the official statement, this decision is dictated by the current situation in the country. Human rights activists call this fact disturbing. The non-governmental organization, The Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society, says the CEC is avoiding talk of irregularities and proves once again that neither the law nor the constitution means anything in the country.

The date of the new elections remains unknown. However, most likely, this will happen by the end of the year. The incumbent president has announced he is ready to step down once the processes return to the framework of democracy. Which he actually did on October 15.

Clan Clashes

For the past 15 years, Kyrgyzstan has not lacked political turmoil.  However, some of its citizens seriously doubt that democratic frames ever existed.

Kyrgyzstan's political system significantly differs from those of other Central Asian states. For quite some time now, the parliament has been playing a significant role and often does not agree with the executive branch’s decisions.  But there are other circumstances at work as well.

In Kyrgyzstan, political parties are formed not around values ​​or programs, but around specific influential figures who are backed by powerful families, clans, and groups in different regions, says Beate Eschment of the Center for Eastern European and International Studies (ZOiS) in an interview with Deutsche Welle.

That is why she is skeptical of the word "revolution" and thinks that nothing has changed in recent years except the order of the addends, while the sum stays the same. International organizations are constantly highlighting the persecution of Kyrgyz citizens on political grounds. 20% of the population lives below the poverty line. Kyrgyzstan ranks 129th out of 189 countries on the UN Human Development Index. 


Many protesters, however, are driven by other motives. A soon as the protests began, a group of them forcibly freed former President Almazbek Atambayev, who was charged with corruption last year and sentenced to 11 years in prison. It is also worth mentioning that law enforcement did not put up much resistance against the protesters. This trend was also observed during other protests. In their response to the protesters, the police alternated between inaction and brute force.

As for Atambaev, after several failed attempts, he was arrested again on 11 October. Before that, he accused the authorities of organizing his assassination.

On October 6, another former president, Sadir Japarov, was released from prison following a court ruling. He spent three years in prison after being accused of plotting a coup and taking a district governor hostage.   

Japarov is an influential figure, and right before the resignation president Sooronbay Zheenbekov has already called on parliament to appoint him as prime minister. This means that Japarov will become the head of the government. According to the constitution, this role was supposed to be played by the speaker of parliament, but he resigned a few days earlier. Following the shifts in power, a state of emergency has been declared in the country.  Military units and vehicles have been deployed to the capital.



“Utter Mess”

Some Kyrgyz political scientists think that the current changes in the government and the police flirting with the protesters indicate that Zhenbekov's power is weakened, as well as his ability to control the processes. This does not serve the interests of the country's main strategic partner. Moscow has already responded to the new Kyrgyz revolution. "Utter Mess" - this has been the Kremlin’s assessment of the developments in the Kyrgyz capital.

Kyrgyzstan is, along with Russia, a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Eurasian Economic Union, and the CIS. There is also a Russian military airbase in the country.

In Kyrgyzstan, people are finding it really hard to make any kind of prognosis. However, some are drawing parallels with the recent past. The previous two revolutions happened in 2005 and 2010. After the "Tulip Revolution", President Askar Akayev fled to Moscow and Kurmanbek Bakiyev became the head of the country. However, after the 2010 coup, he also went into political exile, unlike its predecessor - in Belarus. In Kyrgyzstan, it is not ruled out that the current president will share the fate of his colleagues.

გარეკანის სურათი: Al Jazeera


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