In a major development for the one-time Soviet republic, Kyrgyzstan old parliament has agreed to peacefully disband after the new parliament — formed in the questionable election that wound up running Askar Akayev out of office — named interim leader Kurmanbek Bakiev as prime minister:
Lawmakers on Tuesday ended a damaging battle for legitimacy between rival parliaments, boosting prospects for political stability in Kyrgyzstan after last week’s ouster of longtime leader Askar Akayev. …
The old parliament’s upper house ended its defiance and disbanded Tuesday, one day after a similar move by its lower house, deferring to a new legislature packed with lawmakers who had Akayev’s support during the disputed elections that fueled the push for his ouster.
The move apparently signaled a measure of accommodation between the old elite and the former opposition leaders now in charge of the country, who swung their support behind the new parliament and called for the old one to disband.
Tensions had raced so high that at one point the new interior minister, Felix Kulov, threatened to arrest the very people that sprang him from jail a few days before. With this agreement in place, however, the Kyrgyz run the risk of allowing Akayev’s supporters back into power. After all, if they got elected with the same rigged polling that Akayev employed, it only makes sense that at least some of them owe their seats to Akayev and might cause problems for reformists as a result. Bakiev himself noted that 20 seats out of 75 might not be legitimately decided, but he conceded that only those seats should be challenged and not the entire new parliament:
Bakiyev, who maintains that about 20 of the 75 seats in the new parliament are in dispute, reiterated pledges that those races would be reviewed by the courts and Central Election Commission. “We cannot dissolve the whole parliament,” he said.
That statement won support from Kuban Orozov, a smartly dressed 20-year-old student standing in the sun on a Bishkek street corner.
The compromise appears to have cleared most of the political hurdles to the upcoming presidential election on June 26th. Another potential problem has also been resolved, at least temporarily, with the withdrawal of Kulov as a candidate in that election. Kulov, who served as the Kyrgyz military chief of staff and the leader of the successor agency to the KGB for years, had appeared headed for the top job as he has more popularity among reformers than Bakiev. However, the similarities between Vladimir Putin and Felix Kulov portended ominously for the future of democracy in Kyrgyzstan, pointing instead to a Russo-centered autocracy.
The Tulip Revolution appears back on track. Let’s hope they can keep it going.