First ever democratic presidential elections held in Kyrgyzstan
In Kyrgyzstan, the previous Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev has received approximately 63% of the votes in Presidential Elections that were found mostly free and fair by the observers. Violations in the electoral process were mainly related to the voter’s lists, where a significant number of the voters could not find their name and thus could not vote.
Monday, 07 November 2011, by HRH Oslo, based on NHC, RT Amnesty international information
On 31 October, voters in Kyrgyzstan actively participated in the first Presidential Elections since the Central Asian Republic became a parliamentary republic. An initial list of more than 80 candidates for President was reduced to 16 by Election Day. The election campaign was as open as could be expected, apart from some accusations of misuse of public funds. Also, media was not experienced enough to report objectively on the campaign and therefore preferred to refrain from reporting rather than offering any analysis to the public. In addition, some international news channels were blocked the last weeks before Election Day.
No serious violations during vote counting
On Election Day, no direct violence or organized violations was reported, but a significant large number of voters did not find their names on the voter’s list and were not allowed to vote. An attempt to create a unified voter’s list had failed, and the existing voter’s lists were not accurate. The problem with the voters’ lists was in particular noticeable in the southern regions, adding to the already existing tension following the bloody unrest in June 2010. The voting proceeded with only minor violations, whereas more serious violations were registered during counting and tabulation. In some instances, international observers were denied observing the counting and tabulation of results. All in all, most observers assessed the elections positively, underlining that procedural flaws must be addressed in the future. The runner-ups Kamchybek Tashiev and Adakhan Madumarov, who each got approximately 14% of the votes, do not recognize the results, criticize the Central Election Commission and call for new elections. At the same time, they have participated in rallies in the south, where they have their base, and in particular blame the Central Election Commission for the fact that the turn-out that was much lower in the southern regions than the national average turn-out.
Reducing presidential powers
The newly elected President Atambayev is said to be a close ally to the current President Otunbayeva and also to the Russian Federation. President Rosa Otunbayeva fulfilled her original promise not to run as a candidate herself, after having governed Kyrgyzstan since the popular protests in April 2010 which ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiyev and found refuge in Belarus. Following a referendum of the new Kyrgyz constitution, the governmental system was changed from a Presidential republic to a Parliamentary republic, a change supported by more than 90% of the voters. Under the new system, the powers of the president have been reduced to the advantage of the parliament.
Norwegian Helsinki committee supports positive developments
We are pleased that the elections seem to have passed without significant violations and violence, says secretary general of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Bjørn Engesland. – It is now important that the runner-ups with their base in the southern regions use the established legal procedures for any complaint, and that they refrain from encouraging violent actions and from instigating discontent among people.
Long way to go
As Kyrgyzstan takes important step toward democratic society the government still has to find solution to problems which were haunting country in the past. The core causes of democratic breakdown since the “third revolution” have been political instability and violence, conflicts revolving around ethnicity or other “identity” issues, poor governance, corruption, and abuse of executive power. In Kyrgyzstan, every one of these remains a great threat to fragile democracy. Widespread corruption in the police, courts, and police, along with irresponsible statements by some Kyrgyz-nationalist politicians, has made the ethnic divide critically worse. Human-rights defenders allege that police in the south regularly fail to protect ethnic Uzbeks, the families of accused persons (most of whom are Uzbek), their lawyers, and even judges from threats and attacks by angry Kyrgyz mobs.
On June 10, 2010 there began a mass anti Uzbek pogrom that devastated the Osh and Jalal-Abad regions. The toll, according to both official sources and the human-rights NGOs such as Kylym Shamy, 436 were killed, but many more remain missing. Thousands more were injured, many by sexual assault. Victims were overwhelmingly Uzbeks. Close to two-thousand homes were destroyed, vast sums’ worth of property were damaged or ruined, and 400,000 people were displaced as they fled for their lives. Credible reports circulated of well-armed men in masks launching orchestrated assaults against Uzbeks. Videos emerged showing Kyrgyz military and security forces failing to intervene in defense of Uzbek victims, and in some cases even assisting their attackers. The evidence, in short, points not to a spontaneous rampage, but to premeditation and a larger political intention. Moreover one of the most prominent human rights defender Azimzhan Asakrov was accused of the murder of Kyrgyz police officer during the violence in June. A. Asakarov was not given free trial as his lawyers were denied right to question witnesses or submit petitions, as lawyers stated they would not be able to defend their client under such circumstances the judge reportedly threatened to revoke their practice license. A. Asakov was a director of NGO called Vozdukh and was investigating the cases of torture in police custody, he believes he was detained and ill treated to punish him for investigating police abuses in Jalal Abad region.
HRH Oslo, based on NHC, RT Amnesty international information