It’s usually quite easy to predict the election’s outcome in Central Asia – the ruling party wins with a majority, most of the time. But will this be the case on Sunday as Kyrgyzstan votes for their new president?
It’s expected that for the first time in the history of Kyrgyzstan, the country will have her new president in a very peaceful manner after elections take place on Sunday. For some critics, however, the political connoisseur of the area is going down.
Let’s take a look at some of the issues in Central Asia’s “Island of Democracy”.
Is there something different about the elections this time?
The elections are usually predictable in Central Asia but not in the case of Kyrgyzstan. Around 60 candidates have applied to run for the presidency (of which, only 13 were registered though and two others also got dropped).
The incumbent president has been in the rule for six years and now, he must leave. Under Kyrgyz constitution, a president can only have one term. Moreover, President Atambayev said that he won’t go for the PM’s job just to stay in power.
This election’s contenders
The two prominent candidates include Sooronbay Jeenbekov—the ruling party’s candidate—and Omurbek Babanov—a prominent businessman and also the former prime minister.
The other candidates are just there to make the moves of endorsing others in an attempt to increase their political influences as some experts say.
With a better support base, it’s easier for the candidates to come up with a favorable deal that they can pull off with the winning side. And obviously, the politicians always have the option for changing sides as they aren’t representing an ideology but their own personality to gain votes.
How is the political climate in Kyrgyzstan deteriorating?
According to some observers and experts, Kyrgyzstan’s political climate is just deteriorating. The Helsinki Commission wrote: “The vote takes place amid mounting concerns of democratic backsliding, particularly regarding the government’s treatment of political opposition, civil society and human rights defenders“.
President’s increasing intolerance to criticism is very lucid now. The Sentabyr TV station that had been criticizing the elected government was closed down last year. Some activists say that the trial had many blatant violations. Other than that, many other media channels were sued and fined for negatively portraying the President’s image. The security services even identified social media users who criticized the president, giving them staunch warnings.
But this isn’t it. Several political opponents of the president have also been sent to prison. Earlier this year, many People’s Parliament’s leaders were put into jail for an alleged coup.
Omurbek Tekebayev, who was a former ally of President Atambayev was sent to prison for eight years on the charges of corruption. He was also barred from running for the presidential elections. Experts believe that Omurbek’s sentence was also a politically motivated move as he was turning out to be a prominent critic.
The entire political environment further aggravated when the diplomatic terms between Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan took an unusual turn towards animosity.
President Atambayev also made an unusually harsh speech saying that “I will speak differently if our neighbors don’t come to their senses”.
Fairness of the elections
So far there have been numerous reports of the candidates’ violations. There’s even a news that the candidates are going from house-to-house, taking down names and addresses and offering people money for their votes.
Mr. Babanov was also accused of vote-buying and the Central Committee has already issued him multiple warnings.
There has also been news of Kanatbek Isakov, an influential MP, getting arrested for planning a coup. Mr. Babanov believes that Isakov was arrested because he was endorsing him.
Some parties have complained that the government is putting pressure on their candidates, arresting supporters and recording their meetings.
Despite all this, voters believe that the outcome won’t be rigged as there are some strong candidates in place.
In the past, two uprisings took place as the outcome of rigged elections which ousted the presidents.
Note: All content is original & written by NewsCrux Team.