Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Another Early Election in Kyrgyzstan?

Reports suggest that President Kurmanbek Bakiyev will engineer an early presidential election. Bakiyev has already announced his intention to run for office, and the Constitutional Court may move up the planned election date from 2010 to late 2009. Bakiyev used a constitutional referendum and early elections in 2007 to consolidate his support, but (divided) opposition to his rule seems to be increasing. An analysis by Erica Marat in the February 18 edition of the Jamestown Foundation's Eurasia Daily Monitor makes several interesting points:
  • The election timetable may be accelerated due to current relations with Russia. The recent decision to accept aid from Russia and end US access to a key airbase near Bishkek could help secure fickle Kremlin support. Moreover, Bakiyev could benefit from the Russian-backed construction of a hydroelectric power station that was a part of the aid package and is scheduled to move forward after 2009.
  • Bakiyev's strategies are similar to those of the ousted Askar Akayev who also used manipulated referendums and elections to his advantage. Unlike Akayev, Bakiyev may have stronger control over security forces, but also faces more challenging economic conditions.

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