Protests in Kyrgyzstan — Sign of a Failing State?

by Nathan Hamm on 11/9/2006

There are two very different takes of Kyrgyzstan’s protests.

Robert Templer of the International Crisis Group says in the press release (which reads like it was written two days ago) to the organization’s report on the unrest that Kyrgyzstan runs risk of becoming a failed state.

“There has to be an end to the use of ‘the street’ to settle political disputes”, says Robert Templer, Crisis Group’s Asia Program Director. “If Kyrgyzstan is to avoid becoming a failed state, the difficult work of fundamentally reforming its political institutions must begin at once”.

Erica Marat has a different take in an article at Jamestown.

By all measures, the ongoing instability in Kyrgyzstan represents a significant political change. While it is easy to misinterpret events in Kyrgyzstan as being signs of a failing state, the opposition has behaved bravely, constructively, and in a quite organized manner.

I am inclined to side with Marat’s take. Large, well-organized protests have hit the streets of Bishkek twice now demanding reform from government and twice now they have shown an eagerness to compromise with the government and have achieved their goals. Bakiev may still be an inept and corrupt politician, but the Kyrgyz state looks a little better with its new constitution. And Kyrgyz society has once again proven it can demand the state be responsive. Those seem like fairly healthy outcomes.

The compromise constitution has been signed, the opposition has held its celebration party, and only a few hardy souls are braving a final night on the square. Yulia of neweurasia is unimpressed with how things turned out. Erica Marat’s article looks at some of the key provisions of the new constitution, as does Kyrgyz Report, where opinions on the constitution can also be found. Sean Roberts notes that there are some unresolved issues.

Photo copyright Teo Kaye. Used with permission.

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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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