04/13/2021, 10.11
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Bishkek, protests and skepticism over vote and constitutional referendum

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Several parties that failed to reach quorum denounce the rigging. The most impressive figure is the low turnout: 30.89% of those eligible. Out of a population of 5.3 million, only 200,000 officially declare themselves unemployed, but data would point to at least half a million out of work.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - A referendum on changes to the Constitution was held in Kyrgyzstan on 11 April, with a series of local elections. Citizens chose 796 deputies from 28 municipal Keneš (councils), and 7,560 deputies from neighborhood councils. The most striking fact is the low participation in the vote. The Kyrgyz section of Radio Svoboda reports a turnout of 1.25 million voters, equal to 30.89% of those eligible (24.2% in the capital Bishkek).

Partial data reveals that six parties will be represented at the municipal Keneš of Bishkek: Emek (14.1%), Ak-Bata (12.4%), NDPK (10.8%), Ata-Jurt Kyrgyzstan (9.7%) , Yntymak (8.4%) and Bizdin El (7.9%), out of 25 parties, confirming the great fragmentation of Kyrgyz public opinion. Participation in the referendum was 35.3%; the votes in favor were 80%; those against 13.6%; 7% of ballots were declared invalid.

The observers of the Interparliamentary Assembly of the SNG (Confederation of Independent States, post-Soviet structure) and of the Parliamentary Assembly of the ODKB (Organization for Collective Security, also post-Soviet, 1992), declared the elections valid.

Among the various parties that did not achieve quorum, the exponent of Bir Bol, Altynbek Suleimanov, protested the irregularity of the competition, accusing a "buying and selling of votes". Bir Bol took part in the elections in Oš, and his protests were joined by representatives of Uluttar Birimdigi, Respublika, Butun Kyrgyzstan, Ishenim and Uluu Jurt, also participating in the "southern capital".

The new constitution confirms the presidential form of government, and introduces the Khurultai of the people, a kind of "assembly of the Khans" of the times of the Mongol Empire. Because of this, the new constitution is ironically referred to as Khanstitutsia. The number of parliamentarians has been reduced from 120 to 90, and the elected president of Kyrgyzstan will not be able to lead the country for more than two five-year terms (the current rule provided for a single term for six years, with which Sadyr was elected last January. Žaparov).

As polls reveal, the main concern of the Kyrgyz people remains unemployment. Out of a population of 5.3 million, only 200,000 officially declare themselves unemployed, but in reality the number is believed to be at least half a million people.

One of the main streets of Bishkek, Lev Tolstoy Street, is known as the "job exchange": here, on the side of the road, people waith every day for possible daily work, mostly illegal work in construction sites . On average, a working day guarantees the maintenance of five children and two elderly parents, with an income that can reach up to a thousand Tajik som (about 70 euros). Generally, at least 300 people a day stop on Tolstoy Street looking for work.

With the rise in the prices of basic necessities, moreover, even occasional earnings help little, and the pandemic is continually aggravating the situation. This is the reason for the general skepticism expressed in the low turnout in the elections.

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