Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 105

The electoral alliance between Kyrgyzstan’s Acting President Kurmanbek Bakiyev and First Deputy Prime Minister Felix Kulov is gaining credibility domestically and receiving positive reactions from the international community. According to recent polls in Bishkek, about 55% of the population will vote for Bakiyev in the July 10 presidential election, while other presidential candidates will receive no more than 2-5%. The alliance was brokered to prevent a bitter race between the two popular leaders. However, in recent days ousted president Askar Akayev and his family have extensively attacked the interim government through international courts.

Akayev’s Russian lawyers sued Daniyar Usenov, deputy prime minister for economic affairs and head of a special commission investigating the former regime’s corruption, and Ludmilla Jolmuhammedova, a journalist from the Kyrgyz Moya stolitsa novosti newspaper, for defamation (Akipress, May 27). Akayev’s lawyer, Maxim Maximovich, claims that many of corruption charges against the former president are flawed, and he speculated that the lawsuit might bring in a new editor-in-chief at the newspaper. He also refuted rumors that Akayev plans to make a public statement that will considerably rearrange the country’s political regime (Deutsche Welle, May 29).

Akayev’s daughter, Bermet Akayeva, is suing the Central Election Commission (CEC) for canceling her parliamentary mandate based on charges of campaign fraud. Akayeva gave several interviews saying that the CEC’s decision was illegal and she intends to claim her rightful place in the parliament. She also announced that her brother, Aidar Akayev, also a member of parliament, would soon return to Kyrgyzstan to continue his political activities. Ownership rights of Bitel GSM and other large businesses in Kyrgyzstan that formally belonged to Aidar Akayev are currently under consideration at the London International Arbitration Court. Furthermore, Bermet said that her father is planning a series of lectures across different countries, working on a new book, and planning a return to Kyrgyzstan after the presidential elections (Kabar, May 24).

The former president appears to still have some political influence in Kyrgyzstan, based on how readily the interim government returned some of the personal belongings. It is unclear exactly what items were returned to Akayev, but his archives, photographs, and personal diaries, containing evidence of widespread corruption, were the most scandalous findings after he fled the country on March 24. Many Kyrgyz believe Akayev’s increased attacks on the interim government are based on the economic — not political — interests of the former president’s family. Azamat Aidarov, a Kyrgyz student in the United States, has labeled this situation as the beginning of Akayev’s counter-revolutionary movement ( May 29).

Twenty-two candidates have officially registered to run in the presidential elections on July 10. Among them there are three women, the Kyrgyz ombudsman, businessmen, musicians, and physicians. Many of the competitors have accused Bakiyev of using state administrative recourses in his campaign (Kyrgyzinfo, May 27).

Osmonkun Ibragimov, a state secretary under Akayev, voluntarily returned $13,500 to the public treasury to assist the new government in tackling corruption (Delo nomer, May 25). Ibragimov hopes to set an example for other public employees to join efforts to clean up politics in Kyrgyzstan. Thanks to the drop in corruption since the regime change in late March, Bakiyev has promised that monthly salaries for teachers and doctors will be increased by 30-40% in the near future (Kabar, May 29).

Bakiyev and Kulov have agreed to add 30 more seats to the parliament from party lists. According to Kulov, this will strengthen political parties and allow women and young candidates to participate in the political process. These seats are likely to be filled primarily by members of Arnamys, a party headed by Kulov. The enlarged parliament is expected to shift the political system in the country from presidential to semi-presidential, allocating more powers to the prime minister.

The interim government is trying to maintain a balance between Russia and the United States. Last week both Bakiyev and Kulov implicitly approved bilateral security cooperation within the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) after plans for a new Russian military base in Osh were revealed in the Russian mass media. Kulov told Kommersant that Russia always remains “Our best friend and friends must not be changed” (Kommersant, May 27).

Akipress is reporting (May 31) that China might station a military base in Osh. Again, as with the Russian base, such reports have not been confirmed by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, only published in a Chinese newspaper, Huasya Shiabo. But on May 25 Bakiyev did say that, given the situation in Andijan, he sees a need for increased cooperation with the CSTO and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

At the same time, while the meeting with U.S. Senators in Bishkek, Kulov stated that Kyrgyzstan would seek to strengthen relations with the United States (Kabar, May 30). U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said he believes recent developments in Kyrgyzstan will be the beginning of democracy in the entire Central Asian region (Akipress, May 30). The senator mentioned that Washington will send $3 million to help cover expenses related to the “March events” in Kyrgyzstan and that the U.S. Congress is considering allocating an additional $4 million to support the election process. But U.S. senators also insisted that the Kyrgyz government must let refugees from Andijan remain in Kyrgyzstan. If Kyrgyzstan considers this recommendation, it will harm its relations with Uzbekistan.

At a recent OSCE meeting in Vienna, Bakiyev called upon international donors to invest in Kyrgyzstan as well as the Central Asian region: “In strengthening regional integration processes we see the foundation of secure and stable development of all Central Asian states” (Kabar, May 30). A number of EU states have allocated millions of Euros to the Kyrgyz presidential elections.

The Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya gazeta sees the Bakiyev-Kulov pact as a positive example that should encourage other Central Asian politicians to act in accord (May 30). In particular, the governments of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan should adopt the Kyrgyz model of political compromise.