Kyrgyzstan OSCE police deployment in doubt

Idea proved increasingly controversial

By Aibek Karabayev

2010-09-07

BISHKEK -- President Roza Otunbayeva might reject the deployment of OSCE international police in the riot-torn south, but the OSCE insists that negotiations have not ended.

The OSCE offered after the June ethnic riots to deploy a group of 52 consultants in the south to teach local police how to operate in emergencies. Numerous protests in the south and in Bishkek have denounced the idea, even though the OSCE delegation would be unarmed.

Negotiations remained secret until German Bundestag deputy Viola von Cramon, one of the negotiators, spoke to the media at the beginning of September.

"The new (Kyrgyz) authorities will probably reject the OSCE consultant group," she told Deutsche Welle. Russia's Kommersant reported September 6 that the 52 OSCE police officers had cancelled their plane tickets.

However, the group's arrival might be delayed rather than cancelled. OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre Director Herbert Salber is visiting Kyrgyzstan this week to discuss options, such as sending the mission after the October 10 parliamentary elections, instead of in September.

"I can't take responsibility for this," Otunbayeva said earlier this month when she refused to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on the OSCE deployment. "(We can't) worsen the already complicated situation nationally; the arrival of police might provoke new unrest."

An attempt by Bishkek to cancel the deployment could unsettle relations with the OSCE, which responded to a plea for aid and whose Permanent Council approved the mission.

"The question of deploying the 52 police consultants remains open, and it's impossible to predict what decision will be made," said Burul Osmanaliyeva of the OSCE Centre in Bishkek. "All that remains for us to do is to await the Kyrgyz government's decision."

Some are hailing the failure so far of the OSCE consultants to arrive. "I'm glad that the government listened to ordinary people," said Mariia Isanova, chairwoman of the Nasiridin Isanov public fund. "Forces from outside must not interfere in the internal affairs of our state. We can solve our problems ourselves."

Others disagree. Only the deployment of those police can save Kyrgyzstan, Aleksandr Kniazyev, a senior scholar at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, contended. "The south needs not 52, but rather 520 or even 5,200, police consultants," he said.

Sergei Masaulov, former director of the Presidential Institute for Strategic Analysis and Evaluation, suggested returning a little later to the issue of deploying the OSCE group, especially since the ethnic Uzbek population is awaiting international forces.

"The president is looking askance now at the deployment because reality is forcing her to reconsider," Masaulov said.

Residents say feelings are mixed. "I've got many acquaintances who say, 'Yes,' many who say, 'No,' and several who say 'Yes, but later,'" said Osh resident Isfara Karimova. "I personally think we need to invite them here, but we need to guarantee their safety. If something happens to them, people around the world will think that we're a completely savage country."

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