Presidential elections and the risks for the future of Kyrgyzstan

One of the key moments of 2011 Central Asian politics will be Kyrgyzstan presidential elections, on the 30th of October 2011. Current President Roza Otunbaeva announced that she won’t run for a new mandate. Otunbaeva became president in April 2010 as she was named to manage the transition following Kurmanbek Bakiev’s fall.

Until now, five candidates have registered for the competition. The deadline for registration is listed on the 15th of August. Current Prime Minister, Almazbek Atambayev, said he will decide whether running or not only in August. Among all the possible runners for these elections, Atambayev is considered the most likely winner if he would join the race. One of the problems he could experience is his lack of “political depth” in the southern part of the country, as he is a northern. Regional cleavages are getting more and more important in the definition of political balances in Kyrgyzstan and an increasing stressing of country’s internal divisions is the main risk the country must face nowadays. The overall situation for the country is somehow critical, not only its political as well as ethnic balances. Forbes has recently ranked Kyrgyzstan the 7th worst economy of the world. Kyrgyz economy has improved over the past few months but some problems still must be faced. For instance, inflation is the major issue to tackle on, as in the first three months of 2011 it reached 20.3%, the highest rate among the CIS states.  Only when the names of all candidates will be officially released, a more correct idea on the future of the country could be made. The risk of regional fragmentation is the true, serious and immediate challenge that Kyrgyzstan must face over the coming months and, since Central Asian ethnic and territorial balances are generally “fragile”, the way in which Bishkek will manage this “geopolitical task” could say more about the overall future of the region as well.

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