On February 12, several Kyrgyz opposition parties and leaders announced the creation of a united opposition coalition. Former mayor of Osh Melis Myrzakmatov and his party “Uluttar birimdigi”, former MP and leader of the “Ata Jurt” party Kamchybek Tashiev, former attorney general Azimbek Beknazarov, former Interior Minister Omurbek Suvanaliev and others become founding members of the new opposition with Ravshan Zheenbekov, a sitting deputy in the Jogorku Kenesh (Kyrgyz parliament), as the leader.
As Zheenbekov told the Fergana news agency, the new opposition has three main goals. “First – the restoration of the current Constitution. In fact, it is not bad, but the President has completely violated it. There has been no parliamentary republic since the president has seized all power: he is the prime minister, and the court, and everything else. The second goal is strengthening the parliamentary system, and the third is the fight against authoritarian power “, – said the leader of the opposition.
While united opposition develops its manifesto and plans, we can talk about what we can expect: in short, it means that in spring we can expect new wave of protests, Especially in the Southern region where the reach of President Atambaev is weaker. Today, I think, opposition has an enough reasons to call people to the square. The complicated situation around Kumtor gold mine, the arrest of the opposition MP Akhmatbek Keldibekov, an unfair mayoral election in Osh (according to Myrzakmatov and his supporters), and the tense situation on the border with Tajikistan will all be used by opposition activists as a main arguments to demand resignation of the government and even the president himself.
At the same time, in my view, this opposition has some important weaknesses. First, leaders of opposition are former officials, and people know what they can do if they will return—in some cases this could be positive, but many of these former officials left office amid serious controversy and leave behind a legacy that is mixed at best. Second, they are regional leaders whose influence does not extend beyond their home area. For example, it is difficult to say that Tashiev or Myrzakmatov have many supporters in the north, or Suvanaliev in the south. Perhaps because of this the relatively new and “clean” Ravshan Zheenbekov was chosen as the leader of the coalition. Third, opposition leaders have different—and sometimes conflicting–political views. For me, it is difficult to imagine that liberal Zheenbekov, authoritarian Myrzakmatov and nationalist Tashiev are working as one team. So it is likely that this is a just temporary union against Atambaev that can fall apart in any time.
Considering the general fatigue of people to demonstrations and revolutions Atambaev also has a chance to improve the situation and take it under his control.
First, make a deal with Centerra Gold on Kumtor gold mine in the interests of Kyrgyzstan and convince the people of exactly that. Second, if Atambaev’s government can come to a peaceful and useful (for Kyrgyzstan) agreement with Tajikistan on border problems his rating in south can improve. Third, a final decision must be made on Kyrgyzstan’s foreign policy. It is still not clear what the priority is for us: partnership with Russia and joining to Custom Unions, or partnership with the West, Turkey and the Arab world. Taking into account the influence of external actors on internal processes in Kyrgyzstan, probably, this will be a decisive factor for the future of Atambaev’s regime, and consequently for future of Kyrgyzstan.