News / Asia

    Kyrgyz Vote in Rare Multi-Party Elections

    Election commission officials wait as an elderly Kyrgyz woman, left, casts her ballot at home in the village of Kizil Birlik, 25 km (14 miles) south of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, October 29, 2011.
    Election commission officials wait as an elderly Kyrgyz woman, left, casts her ballot at home in the village of Kizil Birlik, 25 km (14 miles) south of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, October 29, 2011.

    Kyrgyzstan is the only nation in the world to host military bases of Russia and of the United States. Voters in this Central Asian nation are about to vote for president.

    On Sunday, Kyrgyzstan undergoes a rare experience for Central Asia, multiparty elections for president. In a second rarity, no one knows who will win.

    With 16 candidates in the race, a runoff vote is expected for mid-November.

    Located on the western edge of China, Kyrgyzstan is one of the smallest of the five former Soviet republics in Central Asia. It is also the most volatile. In the last five years, two street revolutions have forced presidents to flee the country.

    Since the last revolution - 18 months ago - Kyrgyzstan has been run by Roza Otunbayeva, Central Asia’s first woman president. In another break with strong-man rule, Otunbayeva plans to step down at the end of her term on December 31, becoming the first Central Asian leader to step down voluntarily since the five republics won independence at the collapse of the Soviet Union 20 years ago.

    Pyotr Chernyak, a former newspaper editor in the capital, Bishkek, believes voting Sunday will be peaceful, despite some candidates crying fraud in advance.

    Geography splits this mountainous nation, between north and south.  And then, ethnicity further splits the population of 5.5 million.

    Last year, in Kyrgyz cities bordering Uzbekistan, rioting broke out between ethnic Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbeks. When the fight was over, about 500 people were dead, thousands were wounded and thousands of houses were in ruins.

    In polls, the front-runner is Almazbek Atambayev, a northerner who resigned last month as prime minister to run for president. His opponents say he used government resources to boost his candidacy, a charge he denies.

    Earlier this month, Atambayev traveled to Moscow where he met with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. He is the only candidate to win such an audience. Kremlin approval is key in a country where one-quarter of adult males work in Russia.

    Although the southern vote is split between two strong candidates, it is unclear if Atambayev will win the 50 percent of votes needed to win on the first round.  Chernyak adds that chances of a runoff in mid-November are 50-50.

    With Bishkek located about 90 minutes by cargo jet from Kabul, Afghanistan, Kyrygyzstan’s capital hosts Manas, an American-run military air transit center. At present, all NATO soldiers flying in and out of Afghanistan pass through Manas.

    On the campaign trail, the top three leading candidates said they would respect the base lease, which expires in 2014. Less controversial is a Russian base on the other side of Bishkek, a legacy of Soviet days.

    Valentin Bogatyrev, director of Perspectiva consulting group in Bishkek, says society is split over the impact of NATO’s planned troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.  He adds that some fear that it could open the door to Islamic extremism moving north.

    Whoever wins the presidential elections will guide this pivotal Central Asian nation through this time of transition. The president’s term runs through the end of 2016.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora