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Opposition Threatens to Impeach Bakiev

The Kyrgyz opposition has said it is starting the process of impeaching President Kurmanbek Bakiev, and is calling for his immediate resignation. NBCentralAsia observers say the opposition is unlikely to succeed on either count, and the move is an attempt to pile more pressure on the authorities while strengthening the opposition’s influence over the process of constitutional reform launched last week.

On April 12, protesters at the continuing opposition demonstration organised by the United Front for a Worthy Future for Kyrgyzstan and the Movement for Reforms voiced support for deputy Kanybek Imanaliev’s proposal to begin impeachment proceedings.

Imanaliev said a commission would be set up on April 13 to start collecting the 300,000 signatures needed to call a referendum on impeaching Bakiev. He told NBCentralAsia the opposition had offered to collect the signatures.

On April 15, the United Front’s leader Felix Kulov backed the initiative and said that after what he called a “provocation from the authorities” the previous day, when protesters clashed in the street with members of an unidentified group, the opposition is now calling for Bakiev’s immediate resignation.

Kubatbek Baibolov, a member of parliament and one of the leaders of the Movement for Reforms, says there are good grounds for impeachment, “Bakiev has been stalling systemic reforms as well as constitutional changes for two years. He’s holding back the country’s economic development, he’s reluctant to give up his powers, and he’s hindering progress towards effective state governance.”

But according to the deputy speaker of parliament, Tairbek Sarpashev, the legislature would have no justification for supporting the initiative, nor is it likely to do so. Instead, he said it should propose a set of constitutional amendments that suit the opposition, as a way of resolving the conflict.

Tamerlan Ibraimov, director of the Centre for Political and Legal Studies, said the opposition was only threatening impeachment to put more political pressure on the president.

“The opposition should start negotiating on a version of constitutional reform that takes their demands into account, before a new version of the constitution is reviewed by parliament,” said Ibraimov.

Political scientist Aleksandr Knyazev believes the protests have been a “fiasco”, so the opposition are trying a new approach. He warns that attempts to impeach the president will only make political situation worse and prolong the confrontation between the authorities and the opposition.

“It could be said that the opposition has been left outside Kyrgyz politics. Its major demand – constitutional reform – is now being carried out, but it isn’t involved in it,” he said.

However, on April 16, member of parliament Temir Sariev said the opposition is ready to put forward its own proposals for constitutional reform, and an agreement has been reached with Prime Minister Almaz Atambaev whereby a joint draft would be submitted to the legislature.

(News Briefing Central Asia draws comment and analysis from a broad range of political observers across the region.)

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