The Kyrgyz Presidential Elections: Peaceful Transfer With Five Caveats
Voters in Kyrgyzstan select a new president – the first peaceful transfer of power for Central Asia since 1991
WARSAW - With the presidential elections slated for October 15, Kyrgyzstan is on the eve of a political reshuffle. Incumbent President Almazbek Atambayev, appointed in 2011, is constitutionally barred from running for a second term. He is about to leave the scene and do something no leader in Central Asia has done in modern history – peacefully transfer the power and retire.
Yet, this is not a story about democracy on the rise.
Kyrgyzstan, once dubbed a beacon of democracy in the region, has slumped towards an autocratic regime, where the government increasingly controls social and political life. Similarly to its local neighbors, power is concentrated in the hands of a narrow circle of people; corruption is pervasive, and media is increasingly oppressed.
Having experienced two political coups in little more than a decade, Kyrgyzstan has not been treated gently by history. Those with the decision-making authority in the country, including President Atambayev, often abuse their positions, and it seems their major objective is to monopolize the power and not delegate it for the common good.
In his epic 2007 novel Ice, the award-winning Polish science fiction writer Jacek Dukaj describes an alternative history in which World War I never happened, Poland is still under the rule of the tsar, and the Russian Empire is almost entirely covered by a mysterious frozen substance.