Since the fall of the Soviet Union, there has never been a peaceful transfer of power from one popularly elected president to another in Central Asia. Elections tomorrow in Kyrgyzstan may change that.
“While dirty tricks, arrests, and the alleged use of “administrative resources” have cast a pall over the campaign, the vote is likely to solidify Kyrgyzstan’s credentials as an island of democracy in the region’s authoritarian sea,” writes RFERL.
President Almazbek Atambaev is constitutionally barred from a second term and there are eleven candidates vying to replace him.
“I am proud of my freedom-loving people which has staged two national revolutions against dictatorial regimes over the last 12 years and has proven that people are the only possible source of power in the Kyrgyz Republic,” Atambaev declared as the campaign raged in recent months. He claimed Kyrgyzstan is “the first and only country in post-Soviet Central Asia with parliamentary democracy.”
“For elections in Kyrgyzstan, one must expect the unexpected…Citizens have proved to those in power that in the end they call the shots and authorities will be held accountable for their actions. The attitude promotes political pluralism and a substitute for real electoral competition,” said Michal Romanowski, an expert in Eurasian affairs at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, reports RFERL.
The campaign has not been without controversy as alleged politically motivated criminal charges as well as other dirty tricks have been frequent.