New Kyrgyz Political Force Emerging

Opposition is uniting around former allies of President Akaev.

New Kyrgyz Political Force Emerging

Opposition is uniting around former allies of President Akaev.

A new and powerful opposition movement that could change the shape of Kyrgyz politics is coalescing around former allies of President Askar Akaev.

Three separate political coalitions have formed in the past six months, with another expected by the end of November. They come from across the political spectrum but all have exactly the same declared goal: ousting Akaev through peaceful, democratic and fair elections.

“This group is made up of people who are sick of the regime, who left Akaev’s circle because they realised that they had to be on the side of the people at this critical moment,” said Topchubek Turgunaliev, a member of the People’s Movement of Kyrgyzstan, PMK – a coalition of nine political parties founded in September by former prime minister Kurmanbek Bakiev.

Also new on the opposition scene is the Civic Union For Fair Elections, founded in May by the ex-head of national security Misir Ashyrkulov, a former ally and family friend of Akaev. Ashyrkulov is joined by former finance minister Marat Sultanov and opposition deputies Adakhan Madumarov and Omurbek Tekebaev, as well as jailed opposition leader Felix Kulov.

A third anti-Akaev movement, Jany Bagyt, or New Direction, formed on November 4 around Muratbek Imanaliev, a former minister of foreign affairs. Former secretary of state Ishenbai Abdurazakov and several well-known deputies and public figures are among Jany Bagyt’s other leaders.

IWPR has learned that another political union, Atajurt – Fatherland - is expected to be established at the end of November by as yet unnamed Kyrgyz politicians. Like the others, Atajurt’s main goal is the peaceful transfer of power.

Given their similar mandates, it’s perhaps not surprising that alliances are already forming among the new opposition coalitions.

Jany Bagyt has reportedly agreed to join forces with the PMK to form a unified opposition bloc, while Ashyrkulov’s Fair Elections group is also considering partnering with other groups including the PMK.

The latest wave of opposition to the Akaev regime was sparked by news that the president’s supporters in the south of Kyrgyzstan were gathering signatures to extend his reign, contrary to constitutional and electoral rules that should prevent him from running again.

Parliamentary and presidential elections are scheduled for February and October 2005, respectively.

At the PMK’s founding congress in Bishkek on November 5, newly elected chairman Bakiev called for a peaceful change of power and democratic elections held strictly in accordance with the country’s constitution.

“The PMK has united figures from the right, the left, and others with just one goal, to ensure the constitutional change of power in the coming year,” Bakiev told IWPR.

His deputies include Ishengul Boljurova, until recently the minister of national education, Azimbek Beknazarov, an opposition deputy and leader of the nationalist party Asaba, and Nikolai Bailo, a parliamentary deputy and a leader of the Kyrgyzstan Communist Party.

For the first time since his resignation in 2002, Bakiev harshly criticised the current policy of the Akaev regime. He accused the government of moving away from democracy, of managing the economy inefficiently, and of corruption and nepotism.

Bakiev believes that “a difficult and harsh struggle for a national mandate lies ahead”, adding that “only by joint efforts and in close partnership can we achieve the desired result”.

To that end, congress delegates agreed to put forward one candidate in each district during the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Communist leader Bailo told IWPR, “Today we must act as a united front… regardless of any antagonism or ambitions. Then it will be easier for the people to support our representatives.”

Dooronbek Sadyrbaev, a parliamentary deputy, agrees cooperation is essential to defeat the Akaev government. “We must close our eyes to disagreements and organisational problems in various political parties, because the actual attempt at unification is priceless. In Kyrgyzstan, we will have two serious forces, pro-Akaev and anti-Akaev, the latter being the members of this union.”

The pro-government media has harshly criticised the leaders of the new movements, calling the former Akaev favourites “rejects who were unable to withstand the test of power”.

The deputy head of the presidential administration, Bolot Januzakov, told IWPR, “These are people who were dismissed from their posts for serious neglect of their duties. Can they be trusted with the fate of the country?”

Januzakov added, “There is nothing new about their organisation except the name. The faces are the same and the people are the same, and they have organised many other movements that did not do anything. Time will show whether the people support them.”

Sultan Jumagulov is a BBC correspondent in Bishkek. Leila Saralaeva is an independent Bishkek journalist.

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