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Kyrgyzstan: What Changes Did The Revolution Bring?

  • Gulnoza Saidazimova

http://gdb.rferl.org/6E55FE3B-A64D-49E3-886A-3B7D98BF019E_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/6E55FE3B-A64D-49E3-886A-3B7D98BF019E_mw800_mh600.jpg Interim President and Premier Kurmanbek Bakiev After days of debate, Kyrgyzstan on Tuesday granted legitimacy to its newly elected single-chamber parliament -- whose controversial election was at the heart of the protests leading to last week's ouster of President Askar Akaev. So Akaev is gone, but the disputed parliament remains. Has Kyrgyzstan's "revolution" brought about as many changes as expected?

Prague, 29 March 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Before coming to power on 24 March, Kyrgyz opposition leaders had
two demands: President Akaev should resign, and the results of the recent parliamentary vote should be thrown out.

The opposition got half its wish. But some observers are asking what was the purpose of the so-called "revolution" in
Kyrgyzstan if the parliamentary elections that sparked the unrest are now considered legitimate? Has the past week really
brought dramatic change to Kyrgyzstan?
"The local process in some constituencies resulted in a national revolution. But no one has the right to call the entire new parliament illegitimate."


Sergei Mikheev of the Moscow-based Center for Political Technologies says 'no' is the answer: "What we're seeing now is an absurd situation. It's gone back to the situation we had before [the opposition] took power -- to a 'prerevolution" situation, only without Akaev. What happened is simply the redistribution of authority among different influential groups within the elite."

Andrei Chebotarev of the Kazakhstan-based Institute for National Research tells RFE/RL the decision to restore the
mandate of the newly elected parliament was a compromise of sorts.

Akaev has not yet formally resigned, leaving the opposition in a legal vacuum. In order to establish stability, Chebotarev
says, they may have been forced to strike a deal with the new legislature: "The primary task of the victorious opposition is to form new institutions of power. I believe the opposition didn't control the situation [last Thursday]. The current coexistence of the interim president [Kurmanbek] Bakiev representing the opposition, on the one hand, and [the pro-Akaev] parliament, on the other, is the result of a compromise reached in order to prevent further instability in the country."

Mikheev says Bakiev had no choice but to come to an agreement with some of the newly elected deputies: "The people who are calling themselves the 'opposition leaders' and are now in power aren't actually in control of the situation. They don't have [the resources needed to establish control]. Bakiev was forced to recognize the legitimacy of the new parliament. He was unable to confront the newly elected deputies, many of whom are very high-profile businessmen and
influential people, or people with connections to the criminal world."

Edil Baysalov heads "For Democracy and Civil Society," a coalition of Kyrgyz nongovernmental organizations that was the
largest monitoring group during the parliamentary elections. He says even those observers who have criticized voting in some districts as fraudulent should concede that in many constituencies the winners are inarguably legitimate.

"The discontent felt by our group, by the opposition and by society was caused by the concrete local cases of 19
constituencies," he said. "The local process in some constituencies resulted in a national revolution. But no one has the right to call the entire new parliament illegitimate. We will investigate those constituencies where there have been
allegations of fraud."

Baysalov tells RFE/RL that a new round of elections is to be held in several constituencies where the most serious fraud was seen.

Among the contested districts is Bishkek's University constituency, where Askar Akaev's daughter Bermet won a
parliament seat.

Aydar Akaev, the son of the president, also won a seat in the Kemin constituency. But Baysalov says that vote is not being contested, as Akaev won an outright first-round victory.

The current truce between the new legislature and the new government is likely to be a temporary measure on both sides.
Mikheev of the Center for Political Technologies says both Bakiev and the new lawmakers have the potential to swing events in their favor: "We should take into account that if the new parliament is legitimate, then the last constitution [amended in 2003] by Akaev is also legitimate. This constitution gives many more rights to the new parliament than to the old one. According to amendments, the president transferred part of his authority to the legislature. It means that even if Bakiev wins presidential elections, he is likely to become a nominal figure that is subordinate to a parliament with a pro-Akaev majority."

At the same time, under current legislation, whoever wins presidential elections will have the right to dissolve the
parliament.

The biggest change resulting from last week's events, says Mikheev, is that there used to be just one center of power --
Akaev's. Now, power is distributed among several politicians and their supporters. Observers can expect to see a battle
among them to consolidate authority. But for ordinary Kyrgyz, more meaningful "revolutionary" changes have yet to be seen.
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