(Mostly) Business as Usual as Kyrgyz Government Takes Shape
With a few exceptions, the new Cabinet led by Kyrgyz Prime Minister Temir Sariyev is the same that hobbled over the line before the parliamentary elections.
Eleven of the 16 people proposed for positions in the Cabinet and confirmed by parliament November 5 have returned to their old offices.
Testifying to the death of multi-party government in the traditional sense, most of the ministers are technocrats brought in from the outside with few firm affiliations to the factions in the parliament.
Presenting his 11-point plan for government before parliament on November 4, Sariyev said he was “mobilizing an executive government” to ensure it worked as “a united team” — a declaration of intent to stem the political infighting that has hobbled earlier administrations.
That might be a good thing for Kyrgyzstan as it forges ahead in a difficult economic environment. The multiple Cabinets operating under the previous parliament — in particular the first two — were riven by internecine rivalries that often reflected the interests of the parties to which ministers belonged.
But the technocratic nature of the government means that the parliament has transferred much of its clout to an executive branch effectively controlled by President Almazbek Atambayev. That shift in emphasis carries risks for tensions further down the line as the 2017 presidential election approaches. Atambayev is constitutionally barred from running again and has made no indications he plans to flout that rule.
The structure of the new government will also differ slightly. Gone are the ministries of energy, labour and defense. The functions carried out by the Energy Ministry will now be shared by the Economy Ministry and what is being termed a “holding,” to be overseen by state energy companies.
The Labor Ministry will be absorbed by the State Service for Migration and Employment, while the Defense Ministry has been transformed into a committee. The president ultimately decides on issues of national security, so it is not yet evident what the significance of that reshuffle will be.
For the energy and defense ministries, the move might be aimed at increasing oversight and reducing scope for financial malfeasance.
Energy has historically been one of the most corruption-ridden areas of Kyrgyzstan’s government, while the Defense Ministry has been rocked by a recent scandal that has seen the former minister and a number of other top ranking defense officials face graft charges.