Wednesday, 26 September 2001

‘KYRGYZSTAN ON THE PATH OF DEMOCRACY FOR TEN YEARS’

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By Aisha Aslanbekova (9/26/2001 issue of the CACI Analyst)

This was the theme of a conference held on September 8, in Bishkek. The conference was organized by democratic forces of Kyrgyzstan and representatives of NGO’s, mass media and a number of political parties such as El, Kairan-El, Ata-Meken, Ar-Namys, ResPublica, Erkindik, Asaba. At the conference, the participants shared their opinions, ideas about the reforms that took place in Kyrgyzstan during the decade of its independence, and about the current political, economic and social situation in the country.

This was the theme of a conference held on September 8, in Bishkek. The conference was organized by democratic forces of Kyrgyzstan and representatives of NGO’s, mass media and a number of political parties such as El, Kairan-El, Ata-Meken, Ar-Namys, ResPublica, Erkindik, Asaba. At the conference, the participants shared their opinions, ideas about the reforms that took place in Kyrgyzstan during the decade of its independence, and about the current political, economic and social situation in the country. A resolution was also adopted at the conference.

The representative of the Ar-Namys party Emil Aliev, in his opening speech of the conference, said that the Kyrgyz President, Prime Minister and government officials had also been invited to the conference but none of them came. The leader of the Ar-Namys party Felix Kulov, who is currently in prison, is also aware of the conference, Aliev added.

At the conference, the representatives of political parties and NGOs expressed their opinions regarding the reforms and changes that took place in Kyrgyzstan during the last ten years and discussed the current political, economic and social situation in the country. The leader of the Communist Party of Kyrgyzstan Apsamat Masaliev said that in Kyrgyzstan there is a presidential government and throughout the decade of independence, it has not been justifying itself. Opinions and suggestions of political parties and opposition have often been ignored by the government, Masaliev added. He also said that it is critical for the democratic forces of Kyrgyzstan to be more active and act collectively in order to make their activity more efficient. Another Kyrgyz opposition political figure, leader of Erkindik party Topchubek Turgunaliev said that it is this current government that steered Kyrgyzstan on the path of authoritarianism, starting from 1996. Turgunaliev said that for the last ten years in Kyrgyzstan no measures have been taken against corruption and the country today faces the need of a new state system. The first condition for new changes to occur, according to Turgunaliev, is the resignation of President Akaev and new fair and free presidential elections based on democratic principles. The Chairman of the Human Rights Movement of Kyrgyzstan Tursunbek Akunov, in his turn, said that it is always easy to criticize., but that criticism is not a way of solving problems. Instead it is necessary to try to make a compromise with the government. All of the conference participants emphasized the importance of collective efforts and political forces acting together. Another participant at the conference, the representative of the Ar-Namys party, delivered a message on reforms to be made to the judicial system of Kyrgyzstan.

At the conference, a delegation of 10 people was appointed, which is to represent the democratic forces of Kyrgyzstan at the OSCE session held on September 19 in Vienna. An independent commission on human rights was also established and Turgunaliev was appointed as its Chairman and Urmat Savetov as its Secretary.

A resolution was adopted at the conference, which states the following:: ‘No reforms can take place in Kyrgyzstan until an independent judicial system and popular rule are established. There will be no democratic changes in the country without proper observation of human rights and freedom of speech. The last presidential and parliamentary elections were found undemocratic not only by the Kyrgyz public but by a number of international organizations as well. Free media outlets have been suppressed by the authorities. At the end of the 20th century, Kyrgyzstan became known for oppression and a number of lawsuits against opposition political figures. Corruption is prospering at all levels of the state administration. By being involved in political games the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the National Security Service are putting their legitimacy and reputation under question. The judicial system is totally dependent on the executive. For all these reasons, President Akaev should back away from authoritarian rule, which is responsible for country’s weak economic and financial system, for rampant corruption and for the current difficult social condition of Kyrgyz people.’ The conference participants – democratic forces of Kyrgyzstan – announced that they will make a collective effort to reform the judicial and election systems of Kyrgyzstan and work toward the proper observation of freedom of speech and human rights in the country.

However, it is not yet clear when these long-waited goals will be accomplished and whether they will be accomplished at all. It is not known yet in what way the Kyrgyz government will respond and react; if these are goals that are not encouraged by the authorities, serious obstacles may show up along the way.

Aisha Aslanbekova

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The Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst is a biweekly publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, a Joint Transatlantic Research and Policy Center affiliated with the American Foreign Policy Council, Washington DC., and the Institute for Security and Development Policy, Stockholm. For 15 years, the Analyst has brought cutting edge analysis of the region geared toward a practitioner audience.

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