Thursday, February 03, 2005

Kyrgyz Campaign Begins

Yesterday marked the start of official campaigning for the Kyrgyz Parliamentary elections scheduled for February 27, and world waits to see whether it can become Central Asia's Ukraine or Georgia. Kyrgyz authorities say they have the greatest confidence in CIS monitors, which is not encouraging. The difference between Kyrgyzstan and certain neighbors can be seen in the fact that a movement is openly organizing to impeach President Akaev, but Akaev still seems intent on keeping things rigged in his favor, perhaps hoping to pass power to his son or daughter during the fall's Presidential election.

This BBC article gives a good overview of the situation, which neighboring states are monitoring closely. What's interesting is that at least one key opposition leader - Roza Otunbayeva, whose disqualification from standing for election gave rise to protests - is willing to settle for less than full democracy. At the same time, Akaev's new tactic is to warn of a civil war involving Islamic militants, perhaps meant to gain sympathy from Western powers. A nation somewhat tolerant of gay rights and prostitution might not seem like a prime haven for Islamic activism, but among conservatives that very openness might breed a backlash. However, I'm not aware of any militant activity actually taking place in the country.


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