Stability still elusive in turmoil-torn Kyrgyzstan

19:39, May 21, 2010      

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Peace and stability Kyrgyzstan appear far off in Kyrgyzstan after the southern city of Jalalabad witnessed in the past two days the second bout of bloody clashes in a week between supporters of the interim government and backers of the ousted president.

On Thursday, Jalalabad's acting governor Bektur Asanov was attacked while trying to calm down demonstrators at a local race course. Clashes that took place a day earlier in the city killed two people and injured 71.

After the clashes, the interim government declared a state of emergency and imposed a two-day curfew in the city and nearby regions. But as concerns are mounting over the government's ability to bring the situation under control, many say peace and stability would remain elusive in the Central Asian country, at least for some time.

CONTINUED CLASHES

Political unrest has gripped Kyrgyzstan since massive bloody clashes broke out in the capital Bishkek on April 7. Weeks of off-and-on clashes highlight the government's limited ability to restore law and order in the country, particularly in the south, political observer Valentin Bogatlev said.

On May 13, opponents of the interim government seized government buildings in three southern regions; and the following day they traded fire with government supporters in Jalalabad city, leaving at least two dead and over 60 wounded.

On Wednesday, hundreds of ethnic Kyrgyz protesters -- mostly supporters of ousted president Kurmanbek Bakiyev, attempted to storm an Uzbek university in downtown Jalalabad, in revenge against a leader of the local Uzbek community who burned down Bakiyev's ancestral house last week. Some casualties were reported in clashes between protesters, police, and ethnic Uzbeks.

INTERIM GOVERNMENT UNSTABLE

In the face of the worsening turmoil, the interim government led by Roza Otunbayeva should first and foremost assert its authority through a coordinated stance within the government, thus regaining public trust, analysts say.

On Wednesday, Otunbayeva was appointed interim president and prime minister by the interim government and will serve until the last day of 2011, though she is not entitled to run in the presidential election scheduled for October 2011.

Some political experts said Otunbayeva's appointment was little more than a compromise between different factions within the interim government hard-pressed by the escalating unrest.

But the fact Otunbayeva is prohibited from running for the next presidency reveals a fierce power struggle within the ruling alliance and shows she is not in full control, they said.

TOUGH ROAD TO STABILITY

Many political observers including Bogatlev are pessimistic about the country's short-term future. According to him, three issues are standing in the way of efforts to bring back stability to the country.

First, Kyrgyzstan is beset with a host of social conflicts, including the deep-rooted feuds between the north and the south and between different ethnic groups. In times of turmoil, mobs of people get provoked easily, and inadequate measures by the government would lead to the situation spinning out of control. Bogatlev said.

Secondly, Kyrgyzstan's worsening political disturbance has been compounded by the country's economic woes, hamstring the interim government's efforts to stabilize the situation. The country has already been hit hard by the global financial crisis in the latter days of Bakiyev's rule, Bogatlev said.

After the April 7 clashes in Bishkek, neighboring Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan closed their borders with Kyrgyzstan over security concerns. The blockade cut off personnel exchanges as well as humanitarian supplies to the country, dealing a huge blow to both the population and businesses, he said.

Kazakhstan on Friday reopened the border, but Kyrgyz media said it would not help much in achieving a turn for the better for the economy.

Thirdly, different political forces are jockeying for position ahead of the general elections. Although the three parties which make up the interim government share the same position in opposing the former president, their political aims and ideas are often at odds with one another. Meanwhile, parties outside the current interim government are also too eager to have a finger in the pie.

Whether the political wrestling involving different forces in the run-up to the elections would make a tense situation more volatile remains to be seen, experts said.

Source: Xinhua

(Editor:祁澍文)

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