Political crisis in Kyrgyzstan

The Central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan is experiencing a deep political crisis after the recent parliamentary elections. The country lacks clear leadership,  the government forbade several people to leave the country, and the Kremlin had described the situation of the former Soviet republic as ‘messy and chaotic’.

The crisis started after the results of the October 4th parliamentary election, which handed victory to the establishment party.  The government was forced to annul the results of the election because thousands of people protested in the street and supported the country’s political opposition.

The political crisis became deeper after opposition demonstrators seized government buildings and freed the former President Almazbek Atambayev, who was serving his sentence in prison after being accused of planning to stage a coup.

The protests forced the Kyrgyz cabinet to resign and leave the country without leadership. Even though Sadyr Zhaparov is serving as a Kyrgyz acting minister since October 6th, 2020, there are still two other candidates who can run for this position at the election in the coming months. The opinions on Zhaparov are discordant because since 2017 he was serving his sentence to 11 years and 6 months for taking hostage Emilbek Kaptgaev. During the protests, the Kyrgyz businessman Tilek Toktogaziyev was close to serving as acting prime minister, so he will be a potential candidate at the next election. The third candidate is Omurbek Babanov, a former prime minister who has the political knowledge and experience to run the country.

The current Kyrgyz president Sooronbay Jeenbekov is still in the capital, Bishkek, as his office reported. Even though he has made none public appearance for the past days, he is still the acting president after the Parliament failed to pass a motion to impeach Jeenbekov.

Why this matters? Kyrgyzstan is a former Soviet republic in a strategic region such as Central Asia. Since its independence in 1991 after the collapse of the USSR, Kyrgyzstan has experienced instability and slow economic performance. Actually, the ongoing political crisis is not something new for Kyrgyzstan because the country also in the past was the theatre of riots and protests.

In 2005, after the parliamentary elections, there was a popular uprising, known as the ‘Tulip Revolution’, which forced the President Askar Akayev to resign on April 4th. In 2010, protests against government corruption forced President Kurmanbek Bakiyev to impose the state of emergency until his resignation on April 15th. Bakiyev left the country and a transition government led Kyrgyzstan to the next elections.

Until now the political crisis has caused one victim and over one thousand injured. Business associations have expressed their concerns if banks and tax offices remained shut down and public safety would not guarantee. According to business associations, 6.5 million people might experience food shortages, and this eventuality will transform the political crisis into an economic one.