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Bakiev's Newest Nomination Could Help Avert Crisis


http://gdb.rferl.org/048152a8-55f3-4ca4-b26f-e7ef480fbf29_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/048152a8-55f3-4ca4-b26f-e7ef480fbf29_mw800_mh600.jpg President Bakiev hopes the third time's a charm (AFP) BISHKEK, January 26, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Kyrgyzstan's president has signaled his intention to nominate a close ally for the post of prime minister, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.


The move follows lawmakers' second rejection of President Kurmanbek Bakiev's effort to reinstate the acting prime minister, Feliks Kulov.


Bakiev met today with the heads of parliamentary committees and political factions to discuss efforts to fill Kulov's post.


Bakiev offered two possible paths, the first of which would have allowed lawmakers to draw up a shortlist of possible nominees.


"You can consult among yourselves and suggest to me no fewer than five candidates -- five or seven, maybe more, as you wish -- but not less so that I will have a choice," Bakiev told them, according to RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service. "[They can be] from the ranks of those who are currently acting government officials, from those who are legislators, or governors or leaders of business and industry who can handle [such a] load."


He then offered an alternative that seemed more to his liking.


"Another option is [that] you could say, 'Dear president, please propose a single candidate,' and you can support this candidate so that this endless give and take between us does not drag this matter out," Bakiev said.


Strong Northern Ally


That single candidate is Agriculture Minister Azim Isabekov, an economist who is regarded as a staunch Bakiev ally.


Azim Isabekov

Like outgoing Prime Minister Kulov, Isabekov is from Kyrgyzstan's northern Chu region.


There is a pronounced regionalism that divides Kyrgyzstan's north from its south, and President Bakiev is a southerner. Kulov's northern roots were regarded as an asset following the ouster of the country's first post-independence president, Askar Akaev, in 2005.


In that sense, Isabekov would represent a continuation of Bakiev policy.


ITAR-TASS reports that the official nomination has now been sent to parliament, but lawmakers are not expected to debate the nomination until at least January 29.


Presidential spokesman Nurlanbek Shakiev told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service about Bakiev's consultations today with key politicians of various stripes.


"The lawmakers [meeting with president] presented their demands, proposals, and wishes [regarding a new nomination]," Shakiev said. "Then the president proposed a candidate for the nomination there -- it is Azim Isabekov, who is acting minister of agriculture, water [and the reprocessing industry]."


Turbulent Times


Acting Prime Minister Kulov and his government resigned in December amid a crisis surrounding the adoption of a new constitution.


Opponents have accused President Bakiev of reneging on a deal to diminish presidential powers that was struck in the midst of street protests demanding that he implement promised reforms or step down.


Kyrgyz law gives the president the power to dissolve the parliament if it rejects his nomination for prime minister three times. But disputes have arisen over precise interpretations of recent legal revisions.


Analysts predict that Isabekov will win parliamentary support when his nomination comes up for a vote in late January.


That suggests that today's move by the president could allow Kyrgyzstan -- which saw massive street protests and threats of violence in November -- to dodge a political bullet once again.

RFE/RL Central Asia Report


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