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Kyrgyzstan: Same protests as every year

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Two years have passed since Kyrgyzstan's ex-President Askar Akaev got ousted. This regime change, or “Tulip Revolution” to many heralded a new era of open politics in the small mountainous republic.

Although economic growth, a proper fight against corruption and several other key promises of Akaev's successor Kurmanbek Bakiyev didn't materialise, the country regularly experiences political protests organised by the opposition (Global Voices reported before, here and here).

It's protest time in Bishkek again. Says former Prime Minister Felix Kulov:

“What is our aim? Constitutional reforms and an early presidential election. We don't have any other aim. However, the ‘tails’ [supporters] of Bakiev dislike this. It is very important for them to maintain their power by any means.”

To get an impression of the political climate in Kyrgyzstan, it's worth looking at a post CXW wrote for neweurasia in 2006. Sadly, I can't really see any change since this has been written:

Everyone has a theory of who is to blame – most commonly former President Akaev, as though those that are in power now never had any dealings with him. And what is to be done – Reopen factories! Immediate constitutional reform! Get more foreign investment! Protest!

Several blogs have been tracking the current protests in Bishkek:

Registan.net's Teo Kaye is based in Bishkek, equipped with his camera and a witty pen for his cartoon drawings, he gives an update on what's happened on the capital's main square. Teo notices new anti-Bakiyev graffiti and previously offered his analysis of the political situation:

While resigning under pressure is probably not something Bakiyev is going to allow, a repeat scenario of hasty constitutional reforms is more likely. The question of course is how far Bakiyev and Kulov will hold out for an agreeable compromise and accordingly, how controlled the amassed protestors will be.

Several bloggers from Kyrgyzstan also feature live reports from Bishkek. Check morrire (RU) for photos and opposition activist Edil Baisalov's LJ (RU). Although not updated at the moment, Kyrgyz Report had a nice background piece some while ago.

On the Kyrgyzstan pages of neweurasia, Tolkun and Mirsulzhan are offering their insights of the events in Bishkek. Both are very sceptical of the motivations of the opposition and – most of all – those of the protesters, most of which show up on the streets to earn promised money. Mirsulzhan reports:

The opposition has demonstrated its inability to organise big protests. The participants were sleeping in the military tents, complaining that they were not being fed.

and:

“If Bakiyev does not answer the requirements of the protesters’ demands, there will be unrest in the city…”, said two young girls on the square, who came from Kara-Balty. One of them added that a deputy (of something she didn’t know) has promised to pay them 1.000 soms each for a day of the protests (about 27 dollars).

Tolkun, reporting from Osh, says that the protests haven't spread to other cities. Also, he sees the government retaining the upper hand:

Summing up today’s events, I am likely to say that the score is 1:0 to government, as opposition has lost respect of some its people by the end of the day. People are dissatisfied and frustrated. However, it is just a beginning and it is too early to make conclusions. Let’s see what tomorrow holds for us.

Also weighing in is Sean Roberts on his Roberts Report. He is a hoping that the protests remain non-violent, but is worried because of the apparent stand-off between Felix Kulov and Kurmanbek Bakiyev, two men who have usually been on the same side.

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