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Protests, Power Struggles Continue in Kyrgyzstan

  • Lisa McAdams

Political uncertainty continues in Kyrgyzstan, with some members of the political opposition now accusing acting President Kurmanbek Bakiyev of turning against them.

Parliament was again the scene of protests in the Kyrgyz capital Tuesday. Only this time, the people who turned out were there to support the newly-elected parliament emerging from the disputed elections and an apparent power-sharing agreement between former pro-government Akayev forces and opposition leader Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

Central Asia analyst Kumar Bekbolotov, with the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting, says the deal is the result of political pay-offs.

"The majority of opposition deputies who were in the old parliament and who were asking for extension of the mandate until the presidential elections in June, they seem to have been receiving some types of favors from [Mr.] Bakiyev, in return for their agreement to dissolve the old parliament," he said. "For instance, most of these opposition deputies have already gotten some type of new positions in the government."

Mr. Bekbolotov says this was done in order to co-opt, or neutralize opposition from the very people who could have rallied the general public back into the streets. Mr. Bekbolotov says the deal also satisfied a political practicality.

"The main concern for [Mr.] Bakiyev was if he doesn't legitimize the new parliament, he will be lacking the support of those rich and influential people in the new parliament, who are the new business elite, who are the new even criminal elite frankly," he explained. "And the other dilemma was if he doesn't somehow appease the old parliament, he will lack legitimacy from the very people who are supporting him, who took him out to the streets and who backed him up all the time."

The analyst agrees acting President Bakiyev took a big political risk that could back-fire in terms of popular support. At worst, he says, some may link Mr. Bakiyev in the same category as President Askar Akayev, who fled the country amid the popular uprising over the disputed elections and allegations of corruption and fraud.

That is exactly how a woman outside parliament Tuesday told VOA she feels about Mr. Bakiyev.

The woman said we the people did all this revolution, but the leaders took [back] the power. We had our own idea to keep the old parliament in power until new elections can be held, but our officials deceived us, she says.

She adds that she and other opposition members no longer know whom to trust.

She says it is not at all clear which people acting president Kurmanbek Bakiyev serves -- the people who helped thrust him into power, or former pro-government forces who are the majority in the new parliament.

Three constitutional experts are expected in Bishkek this week to examine the legitimacy of the recent political actions in Kyrgyzstan, including this latest move by lawmakers from the rival parliaments to legitimize the new parliament.

Analyst Bekbolotov of IWPR says the newly-elected lawmakers themselves have said it is the first and only anti-constitutional decision they will make in what they say is in the interest of stability.

Some opposition members disagree. They say the new parliament's decision sets a very dangerous precedent, and should not be allowed to stand.

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