Kyrgyzstan’s new prime minister the right man for reforms

Usenov has been called a crisis manager because his appointment comes to the rescue of the presidential team.

Tair Shamshiyev

2009-10-28

KYRGYZSTAN — Daniyar Usenov has become Kyrgyzstan’s 17th prime minister in the 20 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

He began his political career in the 1990s in the government of the industrial city of Kara-Balta where he set up the Eridan Company in 1994, which launched Kyrgyzstan’s first supermarket chain.

He was a member of parliament from 1995 to 2000. His business began to have problems during this period, which he blamed on associates of then President Askar Akayev. As a result, he was forced to flee to Kazakhstan for a time.

He returned during the Tulip Revolution, and since 2005 has served as a minister, mayor of the capital and director of the development fund and the presidential administration. He initiated a search for the former president’s family assets, but this populist move was unsuccessful and drew criticism from all sides.

Usenov was also involved in the scandal over Ineximbank, which was sold to pay off its debt. Usenov was chairman of the board and essentially the owner of the bank.

Another interesting issue is that the opposition accuses Usenov of holding Kazakh citizenship, a claim he has declined to address.

Reaction was mixed to the news of Usenov’s appointment. Political analyst Sanzhar Tashmurzayev called him a temporary figure, as the president needs a loyal man during reforms. “Daniyar Usenov probably won’t be Prime Minister for more than year. He is highly unpopular in political circles and irritates the electorate,” he said.

Daniyar Usenov is neither popular nor well-known, other than by residents of the capital who remember him as mayor of Bishkek.

Usenov held one of his first meetings as Prime Minister with the parliamentary faction of the only opposition party. He promised to listen to their views if they refrained from acting against state interests.

As for the new government, Usenov stressed that all key ministers will retain their posts. He says the president’s plan to reform the state administration system will require the amendment of 67 laws.

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