With the resignation of Mayor General Ismail Isakov from the position of Security Council Secretary earlier this week, Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev once again showed that he wants loyal politicians in key government offices, even at the cost of inefficiency. Isakov is a widely respected military official who was able to achieve impressive results in reforming the army. In his place, Bakiyev has appointed former State Secretary Adakhan Madumarov, who is infamous for his populism and cronyism.
The main reason for Isakov’s resignation was his disagreement with Bakiyev’s personnel policies and the pervasive corruption in the hydro-energy sector (www.akipress.kg, October 13). Isakov was apparently under pressure from other security officials, most likely including Zhanysh Bakiyev, who is the head of the National Security Guard and president Bakiyev’s brother. Several of Isakov’s deputies also left the government.
Madumarov is the first civilian to head the Security Council. Previously he held a variety of offices, including as an opposition MP, Speaker of Parliament, Deputy Prime Minister, and State Secretary. Madumarov lacks a consistent track record in any government position and has had no experience in leading security institutions. Isakov, in contrast, was among the few Kyrgyz military men to have earned the rank of officer during the Soviet regime. He is known to have high morals and to contribute to the betterment of the Kyrgyz Army. Isakov was appointed to head the Security Council in June after serving as a Defense Minister for two years. Isakov was replaced as Defense Minister by the former head of the National Security Guard, Bakytbek Kalyev.
Isakov is not the only influential political official to leave Bakiyev’s ship in recent days. Central Elections Commission Chair Klara Kabilova resigned and fled the country at the end of September, and Minister of Justice Marat Kaiypov was pressured into resigning. All of this has strengthened the opposition movement against Bakiyev’s regime.
Bakiyev has recently made several other government reshuffles, securing a balance among his present and former supporters and opponents. Several officials, such as Head of the Presidential Administration Medet Sadyrkulov and State Advisor Usen Sydykov, have remained in their positions since the change of regimes in March 2005. A member of parliament from the Social Democratic Party (SDPK) Roza Otunbayeva said that Sydykov was holding on to his position to protect his son’s post as head of the Manas Airport (www.akipress.kg, October 15).
SDPK leaders have organized a new movement “For justice.” According to Azimbek Beknazarov, the leader of a “Revolutionary Committee,” four main opposition parties are currently negotiating to join into one bloc. The Zhany Kyrgyzstan party, of which Isakov is General Secretary, might join the bloc as well. Although there are internal divisions among opposition leaders, some seeking another constitutional reform and other striving to oust Bakiyev altogether, all of them consist of former Bakiyev supporters who helped him become president.
The opposition should have ample opportunity to grow into a larger public movement with the population currently frustrated by a looming energy crisis this winter. It has become clear that the escalating troubles in the hydro-energy sector have been caused by poor management and corruption in the Bakiyev government. Moreover, despite the critically low levels of water in the Toktogul Reservoir, international experts report that electricity is still being sold illegally to neighboring countries by high-ranking officials. As Otunbayeva said, “I think the people are waiting for a signal [from the opposition]. The current leadership, as it is today, is [corrupt] from its very roots; it is precisely the main destabilizing force in the domestic situation of the country” (www.akirpress.kg).
The local elections held on October 5 showed once again how Bakiyev disregards the opposition parties and seats his own supporters by a wholesale falsification of the voting results. Bakiyev has his cronies seated in parliament, the government, the security structures, and the judicial branch, as well as now in the local government. Bakiyev’s flunkies permeate state structures even more pervasively than those of the former president, Askar Akayev.
As the winter energy crisis approaches, the Kyrgyz opposition might intensify its activity. Whether the opposition will succeed in achieving its goals will depend on its internal consolidation and ability to formulate clear goals. Some opposition leaders are firmly against removing Bakiyev from office before the presidential elections in 2010, but they might have no choice if he continues his personnel policies.