The Uzbek Vote

by Nathan Hamm on 9/9/2004

Though not entirely happy with the status quo, Kyrgyzstan’s Uzbeks (the largest minority group at 13% of the population), are considered a safe constituency for the Kyrgyz government. Why? Kyrgyz opposition groups are dominated by nationalists and Uzbeks have as yet not mobilized around any of their own leaders.

Now, with Akayev’s pending retirement in 2005, many Uzbeks are approaching the parliamentary and presidential votes in 2005 with apprehension. They are keen to see Akayev’s “common house” course continued, but wonder what will happen if Akayev leaves the political stage.

Akayev has publicly stated that he will not run again, but the issue of the incumbent’s candidacy remains unsettled. The constitution appears to bar Akayev from seeking another term. However, some local political analysts believe the Basic Law could end up being reinterpreted to enable Akayev to seek re-election. If that occurs, Uzbeks could be counted to be strong Akayev backers. “Akayev should stay in power because he will ensure stability and peace,” Gafur Soliev, an Uzbek retiree, told EurasiaNet. “Others cannot do it.”

Regardless of Akayev’s final decision on the 2005 presidential election, Uzbeks are likely to look to the incumbent president for guidance on how to vote in the parliamentary poll, scheduled to occur in February. In the event that Akayev indeed retires, Uzbeks also will be eager to see if he endorses a particular presidential candidate.

Kazakhstan also has an election coming up. EurasiaNet looks at issues in the upcoming vote.

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Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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