News / Europe

Kyrgyzstan Votes for New Parliament

Members of local electoral committee sort through a ballot box, at a polling station in Osh, Southern Kyrgyzstan, 10 Oct 2010
Members of local electoral committee sort through a ballot box, at a polling station in Osh, Southern Kyrgyzstan, 10 Oct 2010
James Brooke

Kyrgyzstan has conducted parliamentary elections in an effort to find a winning political formula for Central Asia's most politically unstable nation.

Usually governments in Kyrgyzstan change with the rattle of gunfire. But today, voters tried a new way - the rustle of paper ballots.

With the vote, Kyrgyzstan embarks on an experiment in parliamentary democracy in a region marked by authoritarian, one man rule.

Six months after a street revolution swept away an entrenched dictator, Kyrgyz voted among 29 parties to elect a new parliament. Parties in this 120-member parliament are to form a ruling coalition and choose a new prime minister.

After voting, interim Kyrgyzstan President Roza Otunbaeva dismissed worries about future political gridlock.

"I am sure that we will have a stable government that will lead the country forward," he said.

Ms. Otunbaeva took power after a street revolution in April overthrew President Kurmanbek Bakiev, the second such street uprising in five years. In June, inter-ethnic violence claimed hundreds of lives in southern Kyrgyzstan.

In response to a question from VOA, Ms. Otunbaeva said the election law required inclusion of ethnic minorities on party candidate lists. During the campaign, she said, parties courted ethnic votes, including those of Uzbeks in southern Kyrgyzstan.

Voters turned out peacefully across the nation, including in Osh, southern Kyrgyzstan's largest city and the scene of most of the inter-ethnic fighting. Votes were cast by 55 percent of the nation's 2.8-million eligible voters.

In addition to political instability, a major issue weighing on voters was the poor shape of the landlocked nation's economy. According to the International Monetary Fund, Kyrgyzstan is the only country in the former Soviet Union that will register negative economic growth this year.

Instead of growing by five percent as predicted, the economy is expected to shrink by 3.5 percent. The principal culprit is the political violence of the first half of this year.

Voters faced a ballot nearly one-meter long that contained 29 party choices. To grab voters, party leaders chose evocative names such as Eagle, Justice, Dignity, Builders and Generous People.

Dignity, a pro-Russian party, appeared to surge in the polls as its leader Felix Kulov saturated the nation with advertisements show him posing with Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev. Mr. Kulov, a former interior minister who speaks Kyrgyz poorly, is also seen by some ethnic minorities as the guarantor against resurgent Kyrgyz nationalism.

A 23-year-old ethnic-Russian college student, Anastasia Borozdina, said she believed Mr. Kulov would protect Kyrgyzstan's historically multi-ethnic character.

"I think it is important for keeping Kyrgyzstan as a multinational country. Because there are many Russian and Uzbek people here."

Two pro-government center-left parties - Ata-Meken and the Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan (SDPK) - are expected to do well.

Polls indicate five parties will win seats in the parliament and a coalition will be necessary.

President Otunbaeva predicted the 'winners and losers' of last April's street revolution would find themselves seated in parliament this fall.

But many Kyrgyz, lawyer Aynura Sultanbaeva, 22, say they are worried political instability will only continue as parties jockey for positions in a ruling coalition.

"The problem with Kyrgyzstan is that there is no leader," she said. "And even if he is a bad leader, it is easier to bargain with him and for international investments to come into the country. But when there are lots of leaders, you have to bargain with everybody."

Washington has strongly backed Kyrgyzstan's move to multi-party elections. President Barack Obama's administration has spent $5-million to help Kyrgyzstan organize the elections.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake told Radio Free Europe's Kyrgyz service the elections could become a model for Central Asia.

The United States maintains an air transit center near Bishkek that has become key to the NATO war effort in Afghanistan.

You May Like

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

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.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs