Close ties between Kyrgyzstan's newly formed opposition movement and President Askar Akayev are fueling fears that the opposition's attempt to break Akayev's 14-year hold on power may be compromised. Local observers say that Akayev's inner circle is behind the push to shape the Union for Fair Elections into a device for retaining their own power once Akayev steps down from office. At the same time, a pro-presidential movement has begun to step up its efforts to to sweep next year's parliamentary polls.
President Akayev has repeatedly asserted that he will not run for re-election in 2005, telling Chris Patten, the European Union commissioner for external affairs, in March that he wanted to make Kyrgyzstan a model for regional democratic development.
If so, an established opposition is a must. On May 20, after years of false starts, Kyrgyzstan's opposition formed the Union for Fair Elections (UFE), its first relatively cohesive organization, to promote transparency in presidential elections scheduled for October 2005 and parliamentary elections scheduled for February 2005.
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Alisher Khamidov is a PhD Candidate at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of Johns Hopkins University in Washington D.C.