ASIA/KYRGYZSTAN - A Jesuit: positive elections, but the path to democracy remains long

Tuesday, 24 October 2017 politics   elections   human rights   democracy   development  

Jalalabad (Agenzia Fides) - The presidential elections held on October 15 were "the first free and peaceful elections in the country" and marked a crucial milestone for the strengthening of the concept of democracy throughout Central Asia: said outgoing president Almazbek Atambayev, commenting on the vote that saw his favorite candidate, Sooronbai Jeenbekov win, who obtained 55% of the votes.
The path undertaken by the Kyrgyz politics is the right one, but the path is still quite long and difficult, explains to Fides Fr. Adam Malinowski, Jesuit missionary of the "Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta" parish in Jalalabad, in the aftermath of the election. The Jesuit affirms: "If there were some tension in the days before the elections, there was great serenity on the Election Day and I did not notice any particular provocations. Indeed, there was a sense of freedom, due to the ability to vote and choose among different candidates. I could not help but notice, however, the often successful attempts to buy the votes for 2000 Kyrgyz som".
With regards to the future perspectives, Fr. Adam observes: "It is hard to look at tomorrow. The candidate who won was outgoing president’s favorite and perhaps will continue his political line, thus guaranteeing Almazbek Atambayev and his followers a peaceful life".
Despite the progress made, the Kyrgyz path towards a truly liberal and democratic political-electoral system still seems that it has to be built. In a note published shortly after the election day, OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) says: "Kyrgyzstan has in general offered a positive example in organizing competitive elections and peaceful transfer of power, but there are still worrying situations".
The good thing is that, for the first time since the State has achieved independence, the transfer of power from the outgoing leader to his successor occurred in a nonviolent manner.
This was in fact the first election after the tumultuous riots that led to the fall of Askar Akayev in 2005 and Kurmanbek Bakiyev in 2010: both of them had come in power with suffragees defined "not transparent" by OSCE and were strongly criticized for corruption and vote rigging.
In addition, before this election, those eligible for the Kyrgyz vote could not freely choose among such a large number of candidates (eleven).
The perplexities which OSCE refers to are largely tied to the wide margin with which the winner obtained the country's leadership. Petroleum entrepreneur Omurbek Babanov, a defeated candidate, has repeatedly denounced "the use of any means by the government to put pressure on voters". According to the final results, Jeenbekov won with 55% of preferences against 34% obtained by Babanov. The deviation, which according to the forecasts had to be much smaller, makes one suspect there was a "trade of votes", as OCSE points out.(LF-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 24/10/2017)


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