Who’s Who in Kyrgyzstan’s New Government?

Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 70

Kyrgyzstan’s provisional government is slowly taking shape. Key positions have been filled and a number of important domestic policy decisions made. The head of the provisional government Roza Otunbayev, recently met with ambassadors from various countries and representatives of international organizations (www.akipress.kg, April 11).

• Roza Otunabayeva stands out with her strategic thinking and strong knowledge of international norms of democracy. She speaks English and is well-connected to leaders across the world thanks to her service both as a former ambassador to the UK and foreign minister. Most members of the provisional government are often unable to separate the language of democracy from Marxist-Leninist terminology.

• The Leader of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Almazbek Atambayev, is another key player in the provisional government. His party was the only one to enter parliament under the leadership of President, Kurmanbek Bakiyev. Atambayev is helping Otunbayeva with economic reform.

• Edil Baisalov is the chief of Otunbayeva’s executive office. He has spent the last few years abroad fearing an unjust trial under Bakiyev’s leadership.

• Omurbek Tekebayev is the leader of Ata-Meken, also a party with leftist leanings. In the new government he is responsible for constitutional reform.

• Temir Sariyev heads Ak-Shumkar, which leans more to the right. He is engaged in the finance and credit sector.

• Azimbek Beknazarov heads the law-enforcement structures. Similar to most other members of the provisional government, he enjoys strong popularity in his own village Aksy, but lacks support across the country.

• Ismail Isakov was appointed as acting Defense Minister. He was arrested last year by Bakiyev, who feared that Isakov would challenge his control over the military.

• Felix Kulov, the Head of the Ar-Namys party, who in 2005-2006 served as Prime Minister, is reportedly also seeking to make a political comeback. After he was sacked by Bakiyev in late 2006, Kulov largely remained underground.

Three major political parties –SDP, Ata-Meken and Ata-Jurt– have reached a consensus that they will build a parliamentary state in order to prevent any one leader from usurping power. New parliamentary elections will take place in the next few months. The number of parliamentary seats is likely to be increased, while election rules will be changed to minimize the risk of vote rigging.

Atambayev has recently visited Moscow and is expected to announce the provisional government’s decision to expel the US Transit Center from Manas. Even if the provisional government tries to close the base, there is still a possibility that they will overturn the decision. The current government are facing substantial challenges. The primary challenge is over the $300 million budget deficit. Reports suggest that during a telephone conversation on April 10 with US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, Roza Otunbayeva said that the Manas Transit Center will remain open (www.rbc.ru, April 11). Clinton, in turn, promised to continue providing support for Kyrgyzstan.

According to Ravshan Jeenbekov, a member of the Ata-Meken party, most representatives of the provisional government lack experience in state service and for most of their careers served in parliament or acted as members of the opposition outside the state. According to Jeenbekov, this shortage of experience will predetermine their future foreign policy goals. “Only a few of them realize that Russian support comes occasionally, while the West is more consistent in helping the country to overcome economic and social hardship,” he told Jamestown.

Meanwhile, the number of dead as a result of the popular unrest on April 7 has reached 81 (www.akipress.kg, April 11). Most protestors were killed by hired snipers who operated from the rooftop of the government headquarters. According to security officials in the provisional government these snipers were recruited from abroad.

In his April 11 interview with the Russian First Channel, Bakiyev admitted that he gave the order to shoot civilian demonstrators (www.1tv.ru). He also said that he is likely to be killed if he were handed to the public. This marks a considerable change in rhetoric compared to his earlier statements. Bakiyev will soon be stripped of his presidential immunity. Opposition leaders believe that looters in Bishkek are financed by Bakiyev, and still expect that he and his brother, Zhanysh Bakiyev, will try to challenge members of the provisional government.

There are already signs of an unhealthy competition over state posts among top officials. Friends and relatives of members of the provisional government are grabbing posts, creating a sense of chaos across state institutions. Former members of the Bakiyev government are also seeking new opportunities with the provisional government. The system of appointing state officials largely depends on individual decisions and not institutions.

The April 7, regime change offered Kyrgyzstan a new democratic beginning. However, with the state lacking a credible parliament and experiencing a huge budget deficit, the task of meeting popular expectations might prove impossible. Therefore, Kyrgyzstan urgently needs both political and economic international assistance to avoid descending into chaos once again.<iframe src=’http://www.jamestown.org/jamestown.org/inner_menu.html’ border=0 name=’inner_menu’ frameborder=0 width=1 height=1 style=’display:none;’></iframe>