Kyrgyz Politics: The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same
Omurbek Tekebayev is increasingly looking like the loose cannon of Kyrgyzstan’s provisional government. As if the divided leaders don’t have enough on their hands as they battle ethnic violence in the south and push Sunday’s referendum through to win a mandate to govern, Tekebayev, a deputy chairman of the provisional government, has called for this fall’s parliamentary vote to be pulled forward.Parliamentary elections are currently scheduled for October 10, but Tekebayev now favors a vote in September, the 24.kg news agency reports, on the grounds that the transition period is too long. AFP news agency adds that Tekebayev, who leads the Ata-Meken ("Fatherland") party, is pushing for a vote in the first 10 days of September, which most likely means September 5 since elections are usually held on Sundays.The politically ambitious Tekebayev no doubt feels power within his grasp and is afraid of losing momentum in the long build-up to the election, but his apparently off-the-cuff remarks underscore the divisions threatening to tear the caretaker government apart.Tekebayev has some innovative ideas on how the new parliamentary system that provisional leaders hope will be voted in on June 27 will work, too. He says he expects the system to harness all kinds of qualities in the people working within it – not only positive ones such as patriotism and selflessness, but also negative ones like the urge for vengeance and greed.“The system we propose is calculated not only on people’s positive qualities: nobleness, love for the motherland, and selflessness,” he said in remarks quoted by 24.kg. “We also want to use negative qualities: vengeance, envy, and the aspiration for power, wealth and personal gain.”That comment might raise a few eyebrows – after all, many Kyrgyz may have thought they overthrew Kurmanbek Bakiyev to rid politics of the pervasive influence of qualities like these.
Joanna Lillis is a journalist based in Almaty and author of Dark Shadows: Inside the Secret World of Kazakhstan.
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