Among the first tasks Kyrgyz president-elect Kurmanbek Bakiyev faced after winning the July 10 election was to assemble his cabinet. Already the process has revealed cracks in the new ruling regime.
According to Bakiyev’s prior agreement with Acting Prime Minister Felix Kulov, the president would appoint members of the security structures and the Foreign Service, while the prime minister would be in charge of the economic sector and local governments. Thus, the government would consist of two teams — one supporting the president and the other the prime minister. However, disputes over cadre politics began well ahead of the August 14 presidential inauguration and official approval of the prime minister. In particular, the new government has been criticized for not including a third team — independent ministries.
According to the Kyrgyz media, the new president is already disappointing voters with his clumsy, ineffective cadre policies (Obschestvennyi reiting, July 29). In particular, Bakiyev’s government has come under fire for its personnel continuity with the reign of former president Askar Akayev. A number of former Akayev allies modified their political orientations “overnight” and joined the new government. “It was a bargain of one trouble for another. I think all those who were especially desperate to retain power stayed in the government despite the change of presidents,” says a 45-year old engineer from Bishkek.
On July 18 Bakiyev demoted Bishkek police chief Omurbek Suvanaliyev for failing to prevent counter-revolutionary events on June 17. When Suvanaliyev resigned in protest, the president appointed Moldomusa Kognatiyev, a close ally of his own brother. This replacement generated widespread criticism of Bakiyev. Suvanaliyev openly argued that his resignation was a political act and has nothing to do with his professional qualifications (Lica, June 28). Suvanaliyev believes that Bakiyev wanted to replace him with a representative from the south, in order to place the capital under control of his clan.
Suvanaliyev said that the deteriorating situation in the Kyrgyz capital in recent months had put a particularly high burden on the Bishkek police. Suvanaliyev also took credit for averting a mass protest of his resignation by up to 2,000 militia personnel, claiming that he took such preventative action to protect the image of Kyrgyzstan and its newly elected president. Acting Prime Minister Kulov was against Suvanaliyev’s departure. Kulov could have prevented the resignation, but only after Bakiyev’s formal inauguration and his official appointment as a prime minister.
According to a Kyrgyz journalist, Bakiyev made too many promises to too many office-seekers in order to gain popularity before the elections. As a result, there are up to five people expecting to occupy many different positions. Further, the president’s list of potential cadres does not match with the preferences and needs of ministers and local governments. Some experts think that personal rivalry between Kulov and Bakiyev is preventing effective state staffing. The future alignment of various state structures, therefore, will depend on balanced coordination between the two leaders.
Deputy Prime Minister Daniyar Usenov, the politician leading the fight against corruption in the state, is widely blamed for prosecuting only undesirable political figures. Prior to the presidential elections Usenov promised that cracking down on state corruption would lead to an increased state budget. But some Kyrgyz analysts question if it is possible to fulfill such promises, since competition for governmental positions is mounting by the day.
Kulov has been criticized for defending the new parliament to protect his own interests. In the event of disagreement with the president, Kulov wants to have strong support among the MPs. Today it is too late to consider invalidating the parliament — the demand set by the popular demonstrations in March — because the current parliament has approved numerous legal acts and the president was elected based on its legitimacy (Obschestvennyi reiting, July 29).
Prosecutor-General Azimbek Beknazarov has been extensively criticized for damaging Kyrgyzstan’s image by resisting international pressure to allow the disputed 15 Andijan refugees to remain in Kyrgyzstan. Twelve of them were given official refugee status, while Tashkent has fiercely demanded the handover of the other three. After numerous international and inter-ministerial meetings, on August 4 Beknazarov set a deadline of ten days for any third country to agree to host the remaining refugees. Holland, Sweden, and Finland expressed their interest on August 8 (Azattyk, August 8).
Deputy Prime Minister Adakhan Modumarov, who recently won a parliamentary seat in a re-run election on July 31, is facing accusations of campaign fraud. Modumarov’s opponent, Mamat Orozbayev, has alleged that the deputy prime minister used government resources to promote his candidacy during the election (Vecherny Bishkek, August 5). The government, according to critics, wants to slip its own representatives into the parliament.
Currently the Kyrgyz public supports the government over the parliament. However, the government might lose its approval rating if it fails to meet peoples’ high expectations. In this case, only a few figures in the parliament, government, or opposition will be able to retain their political popularity. Yet despite the widespread criticism, there are signs of independent governmental appointments. For instance, Kyrgyz Ambassador to Germany Askar Sarygulov, a brother of State Secretary Dostan Sarygulov, was dismissed on August 8. This news took many by surprise because, as one Kyrgyz student observed, “It is not easy to get rid of all Akayev’s former allies in the government; they still possess great influence in the political and economic spheres.”