Kyrgyzstan. According to CountryAAH, Bishkek is the capital city of Kyrgyzstan. The year began with a government crisis since the previous government resigned at the end of 2006. After the parliament twice rejected President Kurmanbek Bakijev’s candidate for new head of government, Azim Isabekov was approved in January as a compromise candidate. His victory, however, fell short. In March, he resigned after continued political unrest. Moderate opposition leader Almazbek Atambayev was nominated in his place, a nomination that was seen as President Bakijev’s attempt to appease the opponents who demanded his resignation.
Bakijev’s former ally Felix Kulov, who led the government in 2006, however, gathered his supporters in protest demonstrations with continued demands for Bakijev’s resignation and diminished presidential power. Bakijev, who himself was elected after similar demonstrations in 2005, was accused of not keeping his promises to fight corruption and pull the country out of poverty. Police used tear gas and batons to disperse thousands of protesters in the capital Bishkek. One hundred arrested. Eventually, however, the protests were interrupted and Felix Kulov claimed that the president began to meet the critics.
In May it was reported that the new Prime Minister Atambayev had been poisoned with an unknown substance in a water glass. Atambayev, who was reported to have been unconscious for two days, said he had received death threats due to the nationalization of a computer industry.
During the year, Kyrgyzstan declined an offer from international lenders to halve the external debt in exchange for a series of reforms. Instead, the government urged all citizens to contribute to paying the central government debt by purchasing interest-free government bonds for the equivalent of SEK 180,000 per person. An average monthly salary in Kyrgyzstan is equivalent to SEK 700.
During the year, international media noted that child laborers are used under very health-threatening conditions in coal mining in mining shafts that are so low that adults cannot work there. However, the authorities refused to admit the existence of the problem.
President Bakijev seemed to meet the opposition when Kyrgyzstan held a referendum on constitutional amendments in October which, according to Bakijev, would diminish presidential power and increase parliamentary influence. 75 percent of voters said yes to the proposal, and the president then dissolved the parliament and announced new elections until December. But the opposition claimed that the changes were instead a step towards authoritarian rule, including by giving the president free hands to appoint important officials. According to OSCE election observers, there were many irregularities during the referendum.
In November, prominent regime-critical journalist Alicia Saipov was murdered in the city of Osh in the Fergana Valley in southern Kyrgyzstan. He was of Uzbek origin and had harshly criticized the Uzbek regime for the Andizan massacre in 2005. Saipov used to smuggle his Uzbek-language newspaper Politika into Uzbekistan. He had received information that criminals in Osh had been offered $ 10,000 to murder him. Human rights organizations demanded a thorough investigation of the murder and found that Saipov could have been murdered by Uzbek agents.
A few weeks before Kyrgyzstan’s parliamentary elections in December, Prime Minister Atambayev resigned. According to the government, there was no conflict with the president, but political analysts felt that the head of government was dismissed.
The election seemed to give Kyrgyzstan a one-party parliament with only President Bakijev’s party Ak Zjol (The Light Road). A special rule excluded parties that did not reach 0.5 percent of the vote in each constituency. The opposition refused to acknowledge the election result, and confusion erupted when the Supreme Court first declared the special rule invalid and then said it was valid. In the end, three parties entered Parliament: the bright road gained 71 seats, the Social Democrats 11 and the Communist Party 8. But the largest opposition party Ata Meken (Fosterland) was without a mandate and the government was accused of cheating.
Disappointment over the exit made the opposition unite in the Movement for Justice, which included nine political parties, with the Motherland at the forefront, and another ten organizations.
The newly elected parliament appointed former Minister of Industry and Energy Igor Chudinov as new head of government.