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Kyrgyzstan: Southern Nationalists Unite to Hold on to Osh

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.

Kyrgyzstan: Southern Nationalists Unite to Hold on to Osh

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