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The Domestic Challenge to Kyrgyzstan’s Milestone Election
The Domestic Challenge to Kyrgyzstan’s Milestone Election
Briefing 76 / Europe & Central Asia

吉尔吉斯斯坦:发展态势尚未明朗

吉尔吉斯斯坦相对的稳定掩盖了其在中亚脆弱的邻国关系、不断恶化的民族紧张局势、宗教极端化以及政治上的挫败感。在吉尔吉斯斯坦10月4日议会选举即将到来之际,俄罗斯、西方和中国在此处的共同利益则为它们创造了一个独特的机会,即,为了吉尔吉斯斯坦选举期间及其之后的民主发展而合作。

概述

吉尔吉斯斯坦是中亚名义上仅有的议会民主制国家,且其在国内外都正面临着不断加剧的安全挑战。根固的民族矛盾、区域性宗教极端化、阿富汗前途未卜的局势、以及乌兹别克斯坦混乱的政权交替——这些情况都可能会严重影响到吉尔吉斯斯坦的稳定。令风险倍增的是,其领导层尚未能解决重大经济和政治问题——包括腐败和极端吉尔吉斯民族主义。极度贫困、社会服务水平下降,且其经济依赖于劳务移民的汇款。并且而鲜少有人对10月4日举行的议会选举抱有预期——由此组建一个改革性的政府。若吉尔吉斯斯坦发生——威胁国家存亡的——暴力剧变,动乱或将蔓延至区域内的邻国,而这些国家也都各自有着严重国内问题。包括欧盟(EU)和美国、以及俄罗斯和中国在内的国际社会应更广泛地意识这一危险,并积极敦促吉尔吉斯斯坦政府解决其迫在眉睫的国内问题。

自从其总统库尔曼别克·巴基耶夫(Kurmanbek Bakiyev)于2010年迫于激烈抗议下台后,包括现任总统阿尔马兹别克·阿坦巴耶夫(Almazbek Atambayev)在内的继任者均未能展现出明确的经济方向或强有利的领导。吉尔吉斯斯坦与西方国家的关系持续恶化。吉尔吉斯斯坦在政治和经济上对俄罗斯的依赖度越来越大,并于2015年8月成为——由俄罗斯主导的——欧亚经济联盟(Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union)的正式成员。在南方地区,自五年前奥什发生了由种族动机造成的死亡冲突后,其人口数量最多的两个民族——吉尔吉斯族和乌兹别克族——任然互相敌视,并迫使政府极力镇压。且其与乌兹别克斯坦和塔吉克斯坦的边境冲突亦并不少见。由奥什种族仇杀后出现的吉尔吉斯民族主义今已根深蒂固,并得到了国内不同组织的支持。一些地区所存在宗教极端化和党同伐异的行径——有时还被视为吉尔吉斯斯坦的传统价值观,而这也是当局面对的一个挑战。吉尔吉斯斯坦各政党并未对这些趋势做出应对,反倒是在容纳它们。

吉尔吉斯斯坦的10月选举是在——民众对处在半瘫痪的议会制度愈发失望的——不利背景下进行的。政府现首要任务应是缓和民族主义、促进政治包容性、切实改革,并管理预期。政府应首先制定政策来保护并促进国家的多民族、多教派的性质,抑制无秩序的民族主义,解决腐败问题。如果不如此,国家和社会的分裂将持续深化。这些分裂是巴基耶夫时代的遗产和2010事件恶果所致。国际社会——无论是通过双边还是多边组织,如欧盟、联合国、以及成员国包括俄罗斯在内的欧洲安全合作组织(OSCE)——都应为该国提供高层、持续的参与和专业指导,并同时推进改革,以此支持吉尔吉斯斯坦就要使其议会民主制度有效所做的声明。

比什凯克/布鲁塞尔,2015年9月30日

A man walks past a monument depicting Kyrgyz folklore hero Manas in Batken, Kyrgyzstan, in March 2016. CRISIS GROUP/Julie David de Lossy

The Domestic Challenge to Kyrgyzstan’s Milestone Election

While Kyrgyzstan’s 15 October elections are a rare milestone for Central Asian democracy, the campaign is exposing dangerous fault lines. In the largest city of Osh, the new president will have to face down robust local power brokers, defuse Uzbek-Kyrgyz tensions and re-introduce the rule of law.

Kyrgyzstan’s forthcoming presidential elections on 15 October are a milestone for Central Asia: for the first time, a president from the region will voluntarily stand down at the end of his constitutionally mandated term. Kyrgyzstan has come far in the seven years since the tumultuous events of 2010, when President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was ousted in Bishkek and ethnic violence engulfed the southern city of Osh, killing over 400 people, mostly Uzbeks.

The presidential race is tight and unpredictable. Sooronbai Jeenbekov, from the southern province of Jalalabad and representing the ruling Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan (SDPK) party, faces Omurbek Babanov, a wealthy independent candidate from the northern province of Talas, still closely aligned with the party he formed in 2010, Respublika. But whoever wins the ballot will face renewed north-south regional tensions as well as rivalries within Osh, where the memory of violence is still fresh and small arms abound.

Osh appears calm, but complaints of local government corruption, mismanagement and lawlessness suggest root causes of the 2010 bloodshed remain unaddressed.

The central government in Bishkek has long struggled to exert its authority over Osh, a city of 276,000 people situated over the mountains in the Ferghana Valley and lying along a route used by traffickers of Afghan opium. More than 43 per cent of the local population are ethnic Uzbeks. In a speech in the city on 28 September, Babanov inadvertently showed how high tensions are. After urging Uzbeks to protect their rights, he swiftly was denounced by leading government figures for inciting ethnic hatred and supporting Uzbek separatism. Osh appears calm, but complaints of local government corruption, mismanagement and lawlessness suggest root causes of the 2010 bloodshed remain unaddressed.

Once controlled by the now-exiled former Mayor Melis Myrzakmatov, a virulent Kyrgyz nationalist allied with former President Bakiyev, Osh has been transformed from the fiefdom of one powerful man into the playground of a handful. Today’s power brokers in the city, all ethnic Kyrgyz, owe little to Bishkek. After the new Kyrgyz government sacked Myrzakmatov in 2013, elections to replace him narrowly were won by Osh’s current mayor, Aitmamat Kadyrbayev. Since then, Bishkek has missed opportunities to rebuild its influence in the city or forge better relationships with the local government.

Kadyrbayev himself was accused of participating in confrontations against the central government that preceded the ethnic clashes in Osh. He was convicted for his alleged role in seizing the Osh regional administration building in 2010, but the judgment was overturned two years later and he was acquitted. Kadyrbayev maintained that the charges were politically motivated. He is now loosely aligned with two other powerful southern actors: Rayimbek Matrayimov, the country’s deputy customs chief, widely regarded as one of the richest people in Kyrgyzstan; and Suyun Omurzakov, the former head of the Osh city and regional police forces, who is now deputy minister of the interior. Although both men now hold national positions, they still exert significant influence in the city.

Reports in the polarised Kyrgyz-language press tend to portray Omurzakov as either a champion of law and order, or associate him with allegations that Osh authorities have allowed a local sports club to train thuggish youth, serving as another tool for power brokers. The club’s manager, Omurzakov’s brother Uluk, denies the accusations made against the club and its members.

Mayor Kadyrbayev meanwhile, has aroused irritation in Osh with high-handed behaviour reminiscent of his predecessor, Myrzakmatov. Notwithstanding Myrzakmatov’s own abuses, under his rule the Osh city administration was a unified force that was relatively accessible to residents and responded to their requests in a reasonably timely manner. This is no longer the case. Broadly speaking, the new Osh elite appears less interested in providing services and garnering popular support than in squeezing the city for its material enrichment.

Any attempt by the victor in the 15 October election to reassert central power over Osh will be risky.

Any attempt by the victor in the 15 October election to reassert central power over Osh will be risky, as the city's local power brokers could react by mobilising their respective constituencies, banking on popular dissatisfaction that could spill over into violent confrontation. Outgoing President Almazbek Atambayev was a relatively skillful manager of the competing interests of regional strongmen, even if he did not seek to rebuild Bishkek’s authority in Osh. Should Jeenbekov, believed to be hostile to Matrayimov and Kadyrbayev, be elected president, he could seek to remove these power brokers and replace them with his own southern allies. Babanov, lacking roots in the region, might attempt the same. A struggle over control of elite networks in a city still full of arms and latent ethnic tensions could spell disaster.

Yet doing nothing about growing tensions in Osh is not a good option either. However difficult the task, the next president will need to promote genuine reconciliation between the Uzbek and Kyrgyz communities in the south. Rooting out corruption and reinstating the rule of law should top his agenda. Foreign donors, including Russia and China, should engage the Kyrgyz government on these issues even as they recognise that things will be slow to change and difficult to discuss.