The two losers in Kyrgyzstan’s presidential poll last October are using upcoming municipal elections in the troubled southern city of Osh to make a political comeback by throwing their support behind a volatile but popular local strongman. The southerners’ united front offers fresh evidence that the central government in Bishkek has only limited influence in the country’s second-largest city.
At a rally in central Osh on March 1, nationalists led by Kamchybek Tashiev, leader of the Ata-Jurt Party, and Adakhan Madumarov united to demand the resignation of the newly installed government in Bishkek. The rally was timed to support the combative and independent-minded mayor of Osh, Melisbek Myrzakmatov, who is hoping his supporters can retain control of the 45-seat Osh city council (kenesh) in March 4 municipal elections. The kenesh has the power to approve or reject the president’s nominee for mayor. Organizers are also hoping to build momentum heading into spring, Kyrgyzstan’s traditional protest season.
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David Trilling is EurasiaNet's Central Asia editor.