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Tendencies in the political situation in Kyrgyzstan. View from Beijing

Friday, April 15, 2011 - 11:16

Readers are suggested to read an analytical material of Xu Xiaotian, the head of research department on Central Asia of Chinese Academy of Modern International Relations.
According to the estimates of our Chinese colleague, from the beginning of 2010 the internal situation in the Kyrgyz Republic (KR) has changed. The April change of authorities, the June inter-ethnic conflict between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz, the October parliamentary elections took place in the country. Currently, the Government of KR is faced with a series of difficult tasks which, after being solved, should appease the oppositional political forces, to establish peace in interethnic relations, to prevent food shortages and to maintain the same level of relations with Russia and the USA.
Centrism or decentralization
Modern Kyrgyzstan is characterized by factors such as centralism and commitment to decentralization. Centralism led to the restoration of tribal governance and corruption. In turn, the effect of decentralization complicated the system of governance. On June 27, 2010 a referendum was successfully held in the Kyrgyz Republic, and it mainly solved two issues: the choice was made between the relatively centralized presidential form of government and parliamentary system, and the legitimacy of the interim government was ensured.
The referendum held in Kyrgyzstan allowed choosing parliamentary system, and this symbolizes about the fact that since then the country has started following the new political model. Unfortunately, the outside world almost unanimously considered this path as an unpromising one.
According to the universal law of the development of political system in the region, today the centralized presidential system correspond to the historical tradition and the reality of the development of the countries of Central Asia. But, unfortunately, the absolute presidential power was reduced to absolute corruption in Kyrgyzstan. At the referendum, the choice was made in favor of the parliamentary system in order to limit presidential power and to prevent tribal authorities and corruption. This choice of the people of Kyrgyzstan was made because of the fact that there was simply no other way.
"Parliamentary system" or "presidential system"
On July 2, 2010 a new Constitution of Kyrgyzstan officially entered into force. It has 9 chapters and 114 articles. If to compare it with the previous version we can see that the new Constitution significantly changes the function of the president and the parliament. The essence of these changes is that they led to a change in the form of government of the republic from a presidential form into a parliamentary. Thus, since then Kyrgyzstan became the first state in Central Asia with a parliamentary form of government.
Fitting of this form of government to the current social reality is a difficult issue and in order to resolve it, a great political mind is needed. However, excessive decentralization doesn’t favor the stabilization of the Kyrgyz society. Reduction of the functions of the President denies its key role as a leader, and it will not contribute to the process of the republic coming out of a complex situation.
Reduction of functions of the President because of the fear of corruption is similar to the situation when a person stops eating due to the fact that he has once choked. If the president's actions are under rational control, then it is possible to effectively fight corruption. Usually the elections form of a reasonable criticism and constructive incentives between political opposition and the rulers. Balancing of the two sides promotes to the adoption of a neutral political solution. But in Kyrgyzstan elections produce a condition in which the struggle is a war to death. Besides internal factors, the choice of political system in the republic is influenced by Russia and the USA. Russia always considered that the parliamentary system for Kyrgyzstan was not promising, and it even hopes that the country will return to the presidential system.
Interethnic conflict or a social contradiction
Since May last year in the Osh and Jalalabad a wide conflict erupted between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks, in which hundreds of people were injured and killed. This event was not only a manifestation of interethnic conflicts, but also a concentrated outbreak of public opposition against the anxiety in the country.
Political strife exacerbated inter-ethnic conflicts. Uzbeks were too embroiled in internal political affairs of the republic, which angered the Kirghiz. Bakiyev was forced to leave the presidency, and his own birth advocates did not accept the loss of power, and were trying to get it back. Uzbeks clearly indicated their position against Bakiyev, and they also cooperated with the temporal government and helped to drive the supporters of the former president out of the region. This position of Uzbeks could be interpreted as a contrary to the intentions of the ethnic Kyrgyz, as Jalalabad is the birthplace of Bakiyev. That is why a large group of persistent Bakiyev supporters on May 19 in Jalalabad began the conflict with the Uzbeks, that ended with two deaths and more than 60 injured.
Between Uzbeks and Kirghiz, there is historically accumulated hatred; ethnic relations are fragile and sensitive. Determination of the boundaries between the former republics of the Soviet Union, taking into account only the economic factor, didn’t take into account the real situation, and as a result there was a significant number of the Uzbek population in the country. Incompleteness of the process of demarcation of state borders is not conducive to the normal interaction between the new sovereign states: the Border Service has a lot of complaints, high illegal immigration, and a lot of Uzbek citizens live illegally in the territory of Kyrgyzstan for a long time.
Traditionally, the Uzbeks are close to agriculture, and Kirghiz prefer animal breeding; as a result a large piece of land on the south is worked by Uzbeks and Kirghiz believe that they occupy their land, which supposedly creates problems for the employment of the Kirghiz. In June 1990, in the Osh region there was a conflict between the two peoples about the land and water resources. As a result, more than 300 people were killed or wounded, the houses were burned.
On June 11, when there was ethnic conflict in southern Kyrgyzstan, the interim government could not bring the situation under control quickly. Power structures didn’t always follow the instructions of the interim government strictly, and this led to a lasting deterioration of the situation in Osh and other regions. Due to lack of police officers the interim government had to send the volunteers from retired military to Osh to protect public safety. But it was difficult to control these groups, and their role in stabilizing the situation in the south of the country is ambiguous.
We can say that the interethnic conflict in southern Kyrgyzstan was a "concomitant element" of political instability since the power change in April 2010. National and political contradictions are always closely intertwined, and the Government of the Republic faces a hard task. Although, the population of Kyrgyzstan is 5.5 million, and the country is inhabited by more than 80 nationalities. Osh conflict affected the quality of the current inter-ethnic relations in Kyrgyzstan - it has also worsened relations with Uzbekistan. During the "Osh events" Uzbekistan showed restraint, even accepting over 100,000 refugees from ethnic Uzbeks. It played a significant role in stabilizing the situation in the southern Kyrgyzstan and the preservation of peace in Central Asia.

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