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Politics of Kyrgyzstan

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Politics of Kyrgyzstan

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
The Politics of Kyrgyzstan takes place in the framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the President is head of state and the Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan is head of government. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament.

Political history

In the first years of Kyrgyzstan's full independence, President Askar Akayev appeared wholeheartedly committed to the reform process. However, despite the backing of major Western donors, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kyrgyzstan had consequential economic difficulties from the outset. These came mainly as a result of the breakup of the Soviet trading bloc, which impeded the Republic's smooth transfer to a free-market economy.

In 1993, allegations of corruption against Akayev's closest political associates blossomed into a major scandal. One of those accused of improprieties was Vice President Feliks Kulov, who resigned for ethical reasons in December. Following Kulov's resignation, Akayev dismissed the government and called upon the last communist premier, Apas Djumagulov, to form a new one. In January 1994, Akayev initiated a referendum asking for a renewed mandate to complete his term of office. He received 96.2% of the vote.

A new Constitution was passed by the Parliament in May 1993. In 1994, however, the Parliament failed to produce a quorum for its last scheduled session prior to the expiration of its term (February 1995). President Akayev was widely accused of having manipulated a boycott by a majority of the parliamentarians. Akayev, in turn, asserted that the communists had caused a political crisis by preventing the legislature from fulfilling its role. Akayev scheduled an October 1994 referendum, overwhelmingly approved by voters, that proposed two amendments to the Constitution, one that would allow the Constitution to be amended by means of a referendum, and the other creating a new bicameral parliament called the Jogorku Keņesh.

Elections for the two legislative chambers – a 35-seat full-time assembly and a 70-seat part-time assembly – were held in February 1995 after campaigns considered remarkably free and open by most international observers, although the election-day proceedings were marred by widespread irregularities. Independent candidates won most of the seats, suggesting that personalities prevailed over ideologies. The new Parliament convened its initial session in March 1995. One of its first orders of business was the approval of the precise constitutional language on the role of the legislature.

Kyrgyzstan's independent political parties competed in the 1996 parliamentary elections. A February 1996 referendum – in violation of the Constitution and the law on referendums – amended the Constitution to give President Akayev more power. It also removed the clause that parliamentarians be directly elected by universal suffrage. Although the changes gave the President the power to dissolve Parliament, it also more clearly defined Parliament's powers. Since that time, Parliament has demonstrated real independence from the executive branch.

An October 1998 referendum approved constitutional changes, including increasing the number of deputies in the upper house, reducing the number of deputies in the lower house, rolling back Parliamentary immunity, reforming land tender rules, and reforming the state budget.

Two rounds of Parliamentary elections were held on 20 February 2000 and 12 March 2000. With the full backing of the United States, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) reported that the elections failed to comply with commitments to free and fair elections and hence were invalid. Questionable judicial proceedings against opposition candidates and parties limited the choice of candidates available to Kyrgyz voters, while state-controlled media reported favorably on official candidates only and government officials put pressure on independent media outlets that favored the opposition.

In 2002 Azimbek Beknazarov, a leading opposition figure, was imprisoned by the local authorities, in what many believe to be politically motivated circumstances. This led to protests resulting in clashes with police forces, culminating in the death of five people in Jalal-Abad.

As May approached the authorities further extended their hold on power, imprisoning the vocal former Presidential ally, Feliks Kulov, to ten years for alleged "abuses of office". During the same month the entire government resigned, accepting blame for the loss of life during the protests earlier in the year. A new government led by Nikolay Tanayev was then formed and has remained ever since.

In November the President faced yet more protests, as the opposition announced it would march on the capital and demand his resignation. The police reacted by arresting large amounts of demonstrators, further adding to international disapproval at the authoritarian nature of Akayev's government.

Government office building in the village of Tamchy, Issyk Kul Province

By June 2003, the lower house of Parliament announced that President Akayev and two other "puppet" leaders of Kyrgyzstan, from the Soviet era, would be given lifetime immunity from prosecution, raising the prospect of Akayev finally stepping down.

In 2005, following disputed results of the 2005 parliamentary elections, Kyrgyzstan was thrown into a state of political turmoil, with different parties claiming that they were the legitimate government. On 10 July 2005 interim President and opposition People's Movement leader Kurmanbek Bakiyev won the presidential election in a landslide victory. (See: Tulip Revolution).

In 2006, Bakiyev faced a political crisis as thousands of people demonstrated in a series of protests in Bishkek. They accused him of reneging on promised constitutional reforms limiting presidential power and giving more authority to the parliament and cabinet. They also accused him of failing to eradicate corruption, crime, and poverty.[1] Bakiyev in turn accused the opposition of plotting a coup against him. Several parliamentarians had been killed during the political unrest.[2]

Presidential elections, originally expected in 2010, were rescheduled for 23 July 2009.[3] President Bakiyev was widely expected to retain his mandate, while the opposition United People's Movement (OND) announced on 20 April 2009 that it would field a single candidate – Social Democratic Party leader Almaz Atambayev.[4] The election turnout was reported at 79.3%.[5] As of 00:45 local time in Kyrgyzstan on 25 July 2009 (with 2058 of 2330 polling districts reporting), Bakiyev had won the election with 83.8% of the vote.[6]

In assessing the election, the OSCE stated that Bakiyev had gained an "unfair advantage" and that media bias "did not allow voters to make an informed choice." Additionally, they found that the election was "marred by many problems and irregularities", citing ballot stuffing and problems with the counting of votes.[7] On polling day Atambayev withdrew his candidacy claiming widespread fraud, stating "due to massive, unprecedented violations, we consider these elections illegitimate and a new election should be held."[8] Independent candidate Jenishbek Nazaraliev also withdrew on election day.[9] An opposition rally of 1,000 people in Balykchy on election day was broken up by riot police.[8]

The arrest of an opposition figure on 6 April 2010 in the town of Talas led opposition supporters to protest.[10] The protestors took control of a governmental building, demanding a new government. Riot police were sent from Bishkek, and managed to temporarily regain control of the building. Later the same day several more opposition figures were arrested, while the government claimed to have regained control of the situation. The following day, however, hundreds of opposition supporters gathered in Bishkek and marched on the government headquarters. Security personnel attempted to disperse the protestors with the use of stun grenades and live rounds, at the cost of dozens of lives. The protests continued, however, resulting in the flight of President Bakiyev to his southern stronghold of Jalalabad, and the freeing later the same day of the arrested opposition figures. A new government was formed under opposition leader Roza Otunbayeva, while Bakiyev remained for several days in southern Kyrgyzstan, before fleeing to Belarus, where he was given asylum by President Lukashenko. The new interim government held consultations on a new constitution, intended to increase the powers of the parliament and reduce those of the president. A referendum was held on the resulting document on 27 June 2010, and was approved by over 90% of voters, with a turnout of 72%.[11] Elections were subsequently held on 10 October 2010. These elections resulted in five parties reaching the 5% threshold necessary to enter parliament. As of 25 October, the five successful parties were continued negotiations on the formation of a governing coalition.

Executive branch

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
President Almazbek Atambayev Social Democratic Party 1 December 2011
Prime Minister Djoomart Otorbaev Independent 25 March 2014

The president is elected by popular vote for a one six-year term. The prime minister is chosen by the parliament.

Cabinet of Ministers

Provisional Government

  • Head of Provisional Government[12] Roza Otunbayeva[13]
  • Minister of Internal Affairs Bolotbek Sherniyazov[14]
  • Minister of Health Care Damira Niyaz-Aliyeva
  • Head of National Security Service (GNSB) Keneshbek Duyshebayev[15]

Government of Usenov

21 October 2009 – 7 April 2010

  • Prime-Minister Daniyar Usenov
    • First Deputy Prime-Minister Akylbek Japarov
    • Deputy Prime-Minister Tajikan Kalimbetova
    • Deputy Prime-Minister Aaly Karashev
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs Kadyrbek Sarbayev (since 26 January 2009)
  • Minister of Agriculture Iskenderbek Aydaraliyev
  • Minister of Defense Bakytbek Kalyev
  • Minister of Economic Regulations Jenishbek Bayguttiyev
  • Minister of Education and Science Abdulda Musayev
  • Minister of Emergency Situations Bakyt Torobayev
  • Minister of Energy Ilyas Davydov
  • Minister of Finance Marat Sultanov (former chairman of parliament in 2006–2007)
  • Minister of Health Care Marat Mambetov
  • Minister of Internal Affairs Moldomusa Kongantiyev (since January 2008) (heavily beaten up and taken hostage in 2010 Kyrgyzstan riots)[16]
  • Minister of Justice Kurmantay Abdiyev
  • Minister of Labor, Employment, and Migration Aygul Ryskulova
  • Minister of Natural Resources Kapar Kurman-Aliyev
  • Minister of State Property Tursun Turdu-Mambetov
  • Minister of Transportation Nurlan Sulaymanov
  • Head of National Security Service (GNSB) Murat Sutalinov

Legislative branch

In the Soviet era, Kyrgyzstan had a unicameral legislature which was replaced in 1995 by the bicameral Supreme Council (Joghorku Keneš). The Supreme Council consisted of the Assembly of People's Representatives (45 seats; members were elected by popular vote from single member constituencies) and the Legislative Assembly (60 seats; 45 members of which were elected by popular vote from single member constituencies, and 15 of which were from national party lists on a proportional basis with a 5% threshold).[17] All legislative terms were five years.[17]

In 2005, as part of the 2005 election process and in accordance with a 2003 referendum, the Parliament again became unicameral. The Legislative Assembly' (Myizam Chygaruu Jyiyny) had 75 members, elected for five-year terms from single-seat constituencies.[18]

However, because of the political unrest, a new constitutional referendum was held on 21 October 2007 which approved a new electoral system, enlarged the parliament to 90 members and introducing party-list voting.[19] Party-list voting is a proportional representation system of voting, where candidates are selected from central party lists rather than locally elected. Early parliamentary elections were held on 16 December 2007.[20][21]

Political parties and elections

 Summary of the 10 July 2005 Kyrgyzstan presidential election results
Candidates Votes %
Kurmanbek Bakiyev 1,312,174 88.9
Tursunbai Bakir Uulu 56,065 3.8
Akbaraly Aitikeev 52,671 3.6
Zhapar Dzheksheyev 13,821 0.9
Toktayym Ümötalieva 8,111 0.6
Keneshbek Dushebaev 7,424 0.5
Against all candidates 12,771 0.9
Total (turnout %) 100.0
More info Kyrgyzstani presidential election, 2005
 Summary of the 16 December 2007 Kyrgyzstani Supreme Council election results
Parties Votes % Seats
Ak Zhol 1,228,319 46.99 71
Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan 55,651 5.05 11
Party of Communists of Kyrgyzstan 141,034 5.12 8
Others unknown 42.84
Total (turnout 71.93%) unknown 100.00 90
Source: IPU
More info: Kyrgyz parliamentary elections, 2007
 Summary of the 27 February and 13 March 2005 Kyrgyzstan Supreme Council election results
Parties Seats
Results not available, elected members 75
Total (turnout %) 75
More info: Kyrgyz parliamentary elections, 2005

Political pressure groups and leaders

Judicial branch

Although the constitution provides for an independent judiciary, Kyrgyzstan’s court system is widely seen as under the influence of the prosecutor’s office. Low salaries make the bribery of judges commonplace. Most cases originate in local courts; they then can move via the appeals process to municipal or regional courts, with the Supreme Court the final court of appeals. Property and family law disputes and low-level criminal cases are heard by traditional elders’ courts, which are loosely supervised by the prosecutor’s office. Economic disputes and military cases are heard in specialized courts. The constitutional amendments of 2003 expanded the scope of the Supreme Court in civil, criminal, and administrative proceedings. Many protections of Western jurisprudence are not present in Kyrgyzstan’s system, which retains many features of the Soviet system. The right to counsel and the presumption of innocence of the accused are guaranteed by law but often not practiced. There is no trial by jury. Reform legislation under consideration in 2006 would establish a jury system and bolster the independence of the judicial branch.[23]

Prosecutor General

  • Nurlan Tursunkulov

Administrative divisions

Kyrgyzstan is divided into seven Regions (oblastlar, singular – oblasty) and one city* (shaar):

note: administrative center names in parentheses

International organization participation



  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Bruce Pannier "Kyrgyz opposition unites unveils presidential hopeful", RFE/RL, 20 April 2009.
  5. ^ "Withdrawals, Protests Mar Kyrgyz Election". Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty. 24 July 2009. Retrieved 25 July 2009. 
  6. ^ "Выборы президента Кыргызстана". АКИpress. 25 July 2009. Retrieved 25 July 2009. 
  7. ^ Kyrgyz presidential election failed to meet key OSCE commitments, OSCE press release (24 July 2009)
  8. ^ a b Kyrgyz candidate in poll pullout, BBC News (23 July 2009)
  9. ^ Two candidates say “no” to Kyrgyz election. RT. 23 July 2009.
  10. ^ "Clashes escalate in Kyrgyz crisis". BBC News. 7 April 2010. 
  11. ^ "Kyrgyzstan voters overwhelmingly back new constitution". Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review. 2 July 2010. 
  12. ^ Government of People's TrustOpposition formed the (Russian)
  13. ^ The morning of new government (Russian)
  14. ^ Kyrgyz Police supported the new government (Russian)
  15. ^ "Работать тут совершенно не дают" (Russian)
  16. ^ Head of Police Secretly deported to Kazakhstan (Russian)
  17. ^ a b Day, Alan John (2002) Political Parties of the World (5th ed.) John Harper, London, p. 289, ISBN 0-9536278-7-X
  18. ^ Finn, Peter (28 February 2005) "Elections in Kyrgyzstan Inconclusive: Most Legislative Races Forced Into Runoffs: Monitors Fault Atmosphere" The Washington Post p. A-10
  19. ^ BBC NewsStaff (23 October 2007) "'Many violations' in Kyrgyz vote"
  20. ^ Kyrgyz News Agency (15 November 2007) "Three Kyrgyz parties withdraw bids to run for parliament" from BBC Monitoring: Central Asia Unit
  21. ^ Kyrgyz AKIpress (25 December 2007) "OSCE envoy condemns Kyrgyz crackdown on opposition" from BBC Monitoring: Central Asia Unit
  22. ^
  23. ^ Kyrgyzstan country profile. Library of Congress Federal Research Division (January 2007). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.

External links

  • Erik Herron's Guide to Politics in East Central Europe and Eurasia
  • Kyrgyz Report offers ongoing analysis, including an analysis of the clusters of political forces in the country and the roots of the country’s political problems
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