Kyrgyz Voters Seek to Oust Ex-President's Son

Aidar Akaev’s constituents want to sack him as their member of parliament since he has not been in the country for the last year.

Kyrgyz Voters Seek to Oust Ex-President's Son

Aidar Akaev’s constituents want to sack him as their member of parliament since he has not been in the country for the last year.

President Askar Akaev may be long gone, but his son Aidar is still a Kyrgyz politician - though not for long, if voters in his constituency have anything to do with it.

When Akaev senior fled the country in March 2005 after a popular revolt against his rule, his son and daughter remained elected members of parliament.

But now voters in the Kemin district, 70 kilometres east of Bishkek, have mounted a campaign to get Aidar Akaev stripped of his post, arguing that since he is not even in the country he can hardly represent them properly.

Elected in February 2005, Akaev junior has not attended a single parliamentary session. Since the March revolution, he has like his father been living in Russia.

His sister Bermet Akaeva did return and make an appearance in parliament after the revolution, but was formally removed in May when the election commission ordered a re-run of the election in her Bishkek constituency after ruling that there had been significant procedural violations the first time round.

On April 5, the Asaba Party and the Communists announced that they had submitted a petition - signed by 150 voters - asking President Kurmanbek Bakiev and parliamentary speaker Marat Sultanov to have Aidar Akaev recalled.

“We have been left without a deputy in parliament, so our constitutional rights are being violated. We want to elect another deputy,” said the appeal.

The Kyrgyz constitution says that a member of parliament can be dismissed “for systematic absence without valid reasons”. The procedure is complex, requiring the speaker to task a commission of 15 deputies with advising the chamber on whether dismissal is desirable. If the house agrees, the election commission holds a referendum on the matter in the constituency, and only then can it remove the sitting member and arrange a by-election.

If Aidar Akaev were to return to Kyrgyzstan, he would be vulnerable to immediate arrest. In autumn last year, his parliamentary colleagues voted to strip him of the immunity the post carries, clearing the way for the prosecutor general’s office to lay five criminal charges against him. The investigation into his affairs was part of a wider attempt by the Bakiev administration to bring associates of the former president to account for alleged financial wrongdoing when he was in power.

Most members of parliament appear to agree that Aidar Akaev should lose his job. But as one deputy, Jantoro Satybaldiev, told IWPR, the complexity of the process could prove an obstacle.

He suggested that Akaev “could have gone there [to Kemin] himself and written a statement of [resignation]. Isn’t it wrong not to come to parliament once in the course of a year?”

Maxim Maximovich, a lawyer acting for Akaev family members, thinks there is no case to answer, saying Aidar has stayed away only because he would be at risk if he came back to Kyrgyzstan.

“He has a valid reason [for his absence]: he is being threatened,” said Maximovich. “He would very much like to return, but the situation is such that it would not be safe for him to come here.”

Another family lawyer, Akin Toktaliev, argues the member for Kemin has actually done a great deal for his constituents, even at such a distance.

“Aidar has achieved things that his father was unable to do [as president] in 14 years. He has helped the schools and kindergartens on numerous occasions,” said Toktaliev.

Although it seems that most of his constituents want him out, Aidar still enjoys some local backing. In February, supporters held a rally in Kemin calling for their deputy to be provided with guarantees of his safety so that he could come back and do his job.

President Bakiev appears reluctant to become enmeshed in the affair. His public relations advisor Cholponbek Abykeev said it should be left up to the electorate, saying, “The electoral code contains an article giving them the right both to vote for [candidates] and to recall them. Whether they recall Aidar or wait for him to make an appearance – that’s within the purview of the electorate.”

Deputy Melis Eshimkanov believes parliament, too, should stand aside and leave it to Kemin constituents.

“Let the voters decide Aidar’s fate,” he said. “It’s international practice for the fate of a deputy to be decided not by parliament, but by the voters. I did vote for him to face criminal charges, but when it comes to his mandate, I’m not prepared to do it.”

Another deputy, Kubatbek Baibolov, believes the continuing political turbulence in Kyrgyzstan may get in the way of a swift solution. “The situation in the country is complex. Parliament currently has much more serious and important challenges facing it, so it won’t have the time to set up a commission to remove Aidar Akaev,” he said.

However, some politicians such as Erkindik Party leader Topchubek Turgunaliev cannot wait to get the process moving. Turgunaliev says Erkindik and other parties will be meeting with speaker Sultanov shortly to press him on the matter.

“I can’t understand why they are dragging this business out,” he said. “Only Askar Akaev has immunity [as ex-president]; it was removed from his children.” Turgunaliev added that Aidar Akaev “has not come to a single session. There is every right to remove his mandate”.

Cholpon Orozbekova is a correspondent for Radio Azattyk, the Kyrgyz service of RFE/RL.

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