Kyrgyzstan considers tighter firearm regulations
Toy bombs pose threat to Pakistani children
Uzbekistan courts foreign investment
Hizbullah, Jabhat al-Nusra distorting Syrian uprising, analysts say
Opposition wary of Kyrgyz kurultai results
Some say summit was called for president's personal benefit
By Aibek Karabayev
BISHKEK -- In the wake of the first kurultai in Kyrgyzstan, observers are asking whether the country needed it and whether it met its goals.
The opposition boycotted it. Social-Democratic Member of Parliament Isa Omurkulov said, “Right now, a dialogue among the different political forces is more important”.
Temir Sariyev, leader of the Ak Shumkar party, said, “As soon as we learned about the convening of the kurultai, I asked, ‘Why is this kurultai called the kurultai of accord?’ It’s not like we have a civil war or internecine violence. We need a dialogue among political forces; we need to figure out which direction to take the country. We (oppositionists) held such a kurultai a week ago, but the government ignored it”.
Toktaiym Umetaliyeva, leader of the Kyrgyz Coalition of Nongovernmental and Nonprofit Organisations, skipped the kurultai, calling the event “a step backward for the country in an evolutionary and democratic sense”.
“The kurultai fulfilled its purpose”, she said. “And what was it? The purpose, as set up by the president's promoters and family, was advancement of consultative democracy and a gradual rejection of the electoral system”.
Among other things, delegates at the kuraltai supported a resolution for a “consultative democracy”. President Kurmanbek Bakiyev had spoken for such a form of government, one that relies on kuraltai and dialogue with the people rather than elections, as the best option for Kyrgyzstan.
Umetaliyeva expressed certainty that in two years, when the time comes to pick a new set of delegates to the kurultai of accord, Bakiyev's son would be named head of state.
“They want to use the kurultai of accord to solve the state's most important problems. This is a retreat 15 centuries backward”, Umetaliyeva said.
Marat Kazakpayev, professor of political science and conflict resolution at Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University, said the kurultai raised questions that arouse popular interest and that the government can solve.
Speaking in an Ekho Moskvy radio broadcast, former president Askar Akayev called the kurultai “extremely belated”.
“What kind of accord can we talk about, when the police have arrested dozens of participants of the preceding kurultai, including leaders of today's constructive opposition? The preceding kurultai held on March 17 was the authentic one”, he said.
Bakiyev expressed satisfaction with the kurultai. “The kurultai’s goals have been achieved. Everything that had to be said has been said by the delegates”, he said in his concluding speech.
Aziza Abdirasulova, head of the Kylym Shamy human rights group, spoke at the kurultai about legal protection for Kyrgyz citizens. In her opinion, the government at least heard about the problems of the people.
“What comes next is important”, she said. “If the government tries to solve the problems (we) raised, it’ll prove that this idea succeeded”.
The kurultai, which formally concluded March 25, continued at the government level. Kurultai participants met with cabinet ministers to detail complaints and ideas.
Kurultai Presidium Chairman Sadykbek Ablesov said the presidium will meet at least once a quarter, owing to the large number of complaints and requests from the people.
“There are 17 of us in the presidium”, he said. “We’ll figure out a general working plan in a week. We’ll convey the essential issues not to the president but to concrete ministries and agencies, straight to the bureaucrats who are responsible for handling this or that problem”.
Representatives of civil society and the opposition are discussing the results of the kurultai. Leaders of NGOs and the opposition held a joint extraordinary meeting in Bishkek March 25.
The majority of representatives of international organisations refused to publicly evaluate the kurultai.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a diplomat posted at an embassy in Bishkek said, “A meeting of the government and the people in any case is a sufficiently positive and democratic step, but it's too early to draw any conclusions”.