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Former Kyrgyz President Otunbaeva Criticizes Atambaev For 'Big Mistake'

Former Kyrgyz Presient Roza Otunbaeva: "I think history will assess all of this."
Former Kyrgyz Presient Roza Otunbaeva: "I think history will assess all of this."

BISHKEK -- Former Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbaeva says her successor, incumbent Almazbek Atambaev, has negated in the last two years "all the country's achievements" through his actions.

Speaking to RFE/RL on August 31, Kyrgyzstan's Independence Day, Otunbaeva said Atambaev is making a "big mistake" by saying that everything that preceded him was bad and that good things were accomplished only during his presidency.

"I handed presidential powers to Almazbek Atambaev [in December 2011]. Now, he and those who want to look good to him are saying that for the first time in Kyrgyzstan's history, a president, Atambaev, is voluntarily leaving office," Otunbaeva said.

"In the first five years [after toppling authoritarian President Kurmanbek Bakiev in 2010], we moved ahead on the democratic path, but in the last two years, this man [Atambaev] is trying to find his role in history. He is trying to reject everything that was done before him.

"Obviously, history will evaluate his forgetting about the nest he took off from, and how he destroyed that nest," she added.

Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev (left) and Otunbaeva during a ceremony in Bishkek in April 2015
Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev (left) and Otunbaeva during a ceremony in Bishkek in April 2015

Otunbaeva and Atambaev were close allies when she took over the Central Asian country after violent street protests in April 2010 toppled Bakiev, who fled the country and is currently living in Belarus. Otunbaeva refused to run in the 2011 presidential poll, giving Atambaev a chance to win.

Relations between the former allies became noticeably tense a year ago, after Otunbaeva left a public gathering during Atambaev’s Independence Day speech, in which he harshly criticized her.

Omurbek Tekebaev, another former Atambaev ally, who is currently the leader of the opposition Ata-Meken (Fatherland) party, was sentenced to eight years in prison on bribery charges earlier in August.

Tekebaev and his party insist that he was imprisoned in order to prevent him from running in a presidential election scheduled for October 15.

Otunbaeva said the treatment that Tekebaev was subjected to was shameful.

"We feel ashamed that in just seven years, without leaving the house, we found ourselves on different sides of the barricades. One of our comrades is in jail. I am not invited as an ex-president to Independence Day celebrations. I think history will assess all of this," Otunbaeva said.

Bishkek Marks Kyrgyz Independence Day
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During his Independence Day address on August 31, Atambaev reiterated that all those who attempted to provoke "public disorder" after the presidential polls would be "severely punished."

Atambaev said that some politicians, "in order to prevent a candidate from the Social Democratic Party (SDP) to win," are eager to sow disorder.

The SDP candidate is Atambaev's close ally, former Prime Minister Sooronbai Jeenbekov.

Atambaev is constitutionally barred from running for a second term.

The United States and Russia have both sent messages of congratulation to Kyrgyzstan on its Independence Day.

Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Atambaev and expressed confidence that bilateral ties will continue to develop.

"Our countries are engaged in substantive political dialogue, fruitful bilateral cooperation...and efficient interaction within the Eurasian Economic Union, the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization), and other international organizations," Putin said in his message.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in his message that "the United States joins the people of the Kyrgyz Republic in celebrating both this special anniversary and our 26-year partnership," adding that Washington "looks forward to deepening our relationship with the people of the Kyrgyz Republic over the coming years on the basis of trust, equality, and mutual respect."

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