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Kyrgyzstan Searches for Peaceful Transfer of Power

Kyrgyzstan is being run by an interim government, following last week's bloody uprising against President Kurmanbek Bakiyev. The country is now reported to be quiet. But many Kyrgyz people are seeking to establish the institutions needed for the peaceful transfer of power before bloody revolts become institutionalized.

Kyrgyzstan is the only post-Soviet Central Asian country to have forced regime change. In 2005, a popular uprising ousted President Askar Akayev. Last week, President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was driven out in a bloody revolt that claimed the lives of more than 80 people.

Interim leaders are proposing constitutional reforms to turn the country into a parliamentary republic to stop presidential abuse of power. The deputy head of the interim government, Almazbek Atambayev, says there is an unfortunate tendency in Asia, and particularly Kyrgyzstan, for presidents to proclaim themselves khans, or tyrants.

Atambayev says Kyrgyzstan should be a parliamentary republic and the president should have minimal authority. He says interim officials are considering various models, perhaps along the lines of the German constitution, perhaps the one in Turkey.

Independent political analyst Tamerlan Ibragimov says parliamentary rule demands that Kyrgyz political parties learn the art of compromise.

Ibragimov says that, in Kyrgyzstan, there is not so much an absence, as there is an insufficient understanding of what democracy really is; of the importance of procedures, political culture and the ability to negotiate and compromise.

Kyrgyz State University Professor Murat Suimbayev cautions that a parliamentary system could exacerbate political corruption.

Suimbayev says a parliamentary system will increase tribalism and collective irresponsibility. He says the reason is because, when President Bakiyev abused power, it was clear who was responsible. But if parliament and 100 lawmakers abuse power, it is not at all clear who will be personally responsible.

Analyst Tamerlan Ibragimov says demands of the people for better economic conditions and clean government are slowly merging with the desire of politicians to win positions in a parliamentary republic.

Ibragimov says all of these leaders are already thinking about parliamentary elections in the near future. So he doubts they will be thinking that they need a single leader, but rather they will be working to develop and strengthen their political parties to win those elections.

Professor Murat Suimbayev says many politicians in most post-Soviet countries are former communists or factory directors concerned with manufacturing issues, not the well-being of people.

Suimbayev says that for Soviet-era politicians, the main thing was the economy - fulfilling production plans and the like. He says they do not know and do not suspect there are values of culture and civilization and do not even want to know about them.

According to Suimbayev, those values include free and fair elections, the rule of law, human rights and a free media. He says he is not convinced that ordinary people in Kyrgyzstan fully appreciate such things, either.

But Suimbayev says Kyrgyzstan has preserved a spirit of freedom from the time when its people were nomads. He says that spirit toppled a corrupt regime last week. He says everyone mourns the loss of those who died in the process and seeks to avoid further loss of life. Most agree that the orderly transfer of power from one honest government to another can help avoid further bloodshed.