Monday, January 01, 2007

Bakiev Strikes Back

Many people, myself included, hoped that the November constitutional changes in Kyrgyzstan were another step in a long-term transition to democracy. However, a few days ago President Kurmanbek Bakiev succeeded in regaining his power over the Prime Ministership after threatening to dissolve Parliament if it did not agree. Opposition leaders are calling on the public not to recognize the newest changes, and we may see another round of street protests. Left unstated in the coverage I've read is that the earlier resignation of Prime Minister Feliks Kulov seems to end the power-sharing arrangement between those him and Bakiev that followed the March 2005 Tulip Revolution, though there may have been a prior agreement.

For the time being, all these constitutional battles clearly just a forum for the power struggles of largely undemocratic elites. The true steo toward democracy will be when they stop fighting over the rules and begin to compete openly advancing competing agendas.


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