Kyrgyzstan’s unfinished revolution
The whereabouts of the ousted president remains unknown. Some claim that he fled abroad; others say he is in southern Kyrgyzstan, his traditional stronghold, to organise a countermove.
Whatever the case, Kyrgyzstan remains one of the poorest nations of Central Asia, and is now facing a period of great instability, under the worried scrutiny of big powers like the United States (which has a military base in the country), Russia and China, both of which have important economic and strategic interests in the country.
An unfinished revolution . . .
Kyrgyz have come to realise that they have replaced one corrupt president (Akaev) with another (Bakiyev). “Tulip Revolution leader did not fight for democratic reforms, but for a share of power,” said activist Duishonkul Chotonov. As soon as he got into power, Bakiyev placed his relatives in important positions. The creation of a Central Agency under his 32-year-old son Maksim is a case in point. As head of the agency, Maksim Bakiyev was in charge of the whole economy, leaving the cabinet and the prime minister powerless. Promised reforms quickly gave way to political persecution, repression and the loss of civil liberties. Another dictatorship was set up.
The economic situation has deteriorated in the past five years. Poverty and unemployment have risen. Hikes in water, power and phone fees (also controlled by the presidential family) were enough to turn widespread dissatisfaction into outright hostility to the Bakiyev regime, which hitherto resisted all peaceful demands for change.
The provisional government, whose members have not yet been designated, now has major challenges ahead. A north-south regional divide has split the country. Some observers fear Bakiyev might turn to his southern stronghold to regain power. As long as he is on Kyrgyz soil, he remains a threat to the provisional government and the country’s stability.