Kyrgyzstan: Opposition Leader Seeks President's Impeachment
The leader of Kyrgyzstan’s opposition Ata-Meken party, Omurbek Tekebayev, has raised the stakes in his face-off with the president by announcing that he is laying the groundwork for impeachment proceedings.
News website K-News cited Tekebayev as saying on November 22 that Almazbek Atambayev had left himself open to the move by openly supporting his former party, the Social Democratic Party, or SDPK, in violation of the constitution.
“In February, a new political party council was formed and it included all the president’s entourage — Farid Niyazov, Albek Ibraimov, Ikramzhan Ilmiyanov, Kubanychbek Kulmatov. All of them occupy some kind of position in the presidential apparatus or are somehow dependant on him, and they don’t make a secret of it,” Tekebayev said.
Tekebayev is in effect saying what everybody already knows, since the SDPK, while not de facto led by Atambayev, is indissolubly associated with the president. To point out the emperor has no clothes is a transparent political provocation, however.
“The position of SDPK chairman is still not filled. Why? Maybe it is because he [Atambayev] still leads the party?” he said.
Tekebayev said that the influence of the SPDK extends even further. While the party only holds 38 out of the 120 seats in the Zhogorku Kenesh, or parliament, 15 out of 18 government ministries are headed by SDPK representatives, according to the leader of Ata-Meken, which holds 11 seats. Tekebayev said that of the remaining three ministers, two are from the Kyrgyzstan party — which has 18 deputies in parliament and is widely viewed as a stalking horse for the SDPK — and another is from Bir Bol, which has 12 MPs.
Not quite, said the leader of the SDPK faction in parliament, Isa Omurkulov. “There is a change of government taking place and the new appointees are representatives of other parties,” he was cited as saying by 24.kg.
Under the rearranged cabinet, SDPK will have 13 ministers, Omurkulov said. That would still give the party more control over the government than accounted for by its parliamentary representation.
The Ata-Meken leader made an open appeal to like-minded members of the public to gather material in support of the impeachment drive that he said would be brought to parliament by March.
“This could be witnesses statements, publications in the media, video recordings, all kinds of documents,” Tekebayev said.
Under the constitution of Kyrgyzstan, the creation of special commission to open presidential impeachment procedures has to be backed by at least 40 members of the 120-member parliament. Those figures suggest Tekebayev would struggle to make up the required front, although given the constantly shifting sands of Kyrgyz politics, making predictions is unwise.
Tekebayev has received a pledge of support from forces outside parties, such as the Erkin El political youth movement. The leader of the movement, Mavlyav Askarbekov, pledged (on whose authority it is not clear) that civil society and political groups outside parliament would throw their weight behind the impeachment initiative.
Responding to Tekebayev’s statement, the SDPK faction leader Omurkulov said that he could see no grounds for impeachment.
“Ever sine he took up his post as president, [Atambayev] has not undertaken any political activity. He is the father of the nation, the guarantor of the constitution. There is nothing in his actions that would suggest he is acting in favor of SDPK,” Omurkulov was cited as saying by AKIPress news agency.
Meanwhile, another SDPK deputy, Irina Karamushkina, went off-script by appearing to confirm the direct operational link between Atambayev and the party.
“What’s the big deal if the president turns to the party to carry out radical reforms?” she asked rhetorically, before reprising a recent line of attack against former government coalition members Ata-Meken, accusing its leaders of involvement in looting during the unrest that unfolded following the April 2010 revolution that led to Atambayev coming to power.
Even a cursory search through the archives throws up clear confirmations of the fact that Atambayev has never quite abandoned his loyalties to the party that he helped create. In a marathon 2013 press conference, for example, the president was candid in his preferences.
“When it comes to the selective attitude to this or that party — why is it that only MPs from one party get arrested… Well, when you compare, you look first. In one party there are former government officials and people [from the government of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, deposed in 2010], in another party there are people that have been in the opposition for 20 years. I won’t hide the fact that SDPK is a presidential party, but it is not a party of power — this is the only party that I can rely on,” he said.
This spat is unfolding against the backdrop of opposition indignation at a planned December 11 referendum that will, if it goes the government’s way, hand more power to the prime minister’s office at the expense of parliament. This has raised suspicions that Atambayev, who is limited constitutionally to one presidential term ending in 2017, may be laying the grounds for his immediate entourage to retain a dominant grip over power. Atambayev has denied he has any such designs.
The mutual mudslinging is hard to keep up with, but the accusations made against opposition politicians tend to be taken more seriously seeing as the government obviously has state investigators stacked on its side.
A recent insinuation of graft advanced by the security services linked Tekebayev and two of his key allies with a shady telecoms sale that investigators have suggested could have netted the politicians large amounts of money.