01 April 2007

Bakiev tries to defuse new protests

The president of the Krygyz Republic, Kurmanbek Bakiev, sacked his prime minister last week and replaced him with a member of the fracturing opposition movement, which is planning nationwide protests in the provinces starting today that will culminate in the capital, Bishkek, on 11 April.

Several differences splinter the opposition movement but the most visible at the moment is whether to take part in the national demonstrations—and if so, when. The moderate wing wants to allow Bakiev until 5 April to meet its demand for constitutional reforms. Ironically, the faction supporting the protests includes another former prime minister, Felix Kulov, who assumed power with Bakiev in the Tulip Revolution two years ago.

Last November, the opposition movement took to the streets seeking constitutional reforms and the resignations of both Bakiev and Kulov. Six days of protests ended when Bakiev agreed to constitutional changes that increased the power of the parliament. However, by the end of the year, Bakiev and his supporters in the parliament revised the constitution again, effectively reversing the reforms and restoring power to presidency.

That reversal triggered calls for a new round of public protests in April and eventually led to the resignation of Kulov, who almost immediately created a new opposition group, the United Front for a Decent Future for Kyrgyzstan. The United Front also wants to move up the date of next presidential election.

The new prime minister, Almaz Atambayev, who was approved by the Parliament on 30 March, is the former chair of For Reforms movement, which organized the protests last November. His nomination was widely seen as an attempt by Bakiev to placate the opposition and defuse public enthusiasm for the national demonstrations.

Last Saturday was the second anniversary of the revolution that ousted then-President Askar Akaev. The violence and looting that marked the insurrection left a sour taste in the mouths of many apolitical Kyrgyz people, who have expressed fears that a new round of demonstrations could spin of control and be used by the Bakiev regime to justify a repressive response.

1 comment:

  1. I pimped your blog today on mine and on eschaton...
    seriously, i hadn't been by in a while...i hope your actually approaching this like an ethnographic experience--all that participant/observer shit--cuz i like the way you think, pard...