Post-election clashes erupted in Kyrgyzstan between police and protesters left one dead, the Kyrgyz health ministry reported on Tuesday (October 6th). “An injured person [dans les affrontements] is dead “a spokesperson for the ministry told Agence France-Presse, adding that it was “Probably a protester, because he was wearing civilian clothes”. The victim “Has not been identified at this time”, according to the same source.
Thousands of people denouncing the controversial results of the legislative elections marched on Monday 5 October in Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan, at the call of several political parties which did not obtain any seats after parliamentary elections marked by de possible vote purchases. Political parties close to the pro-Russian president, Sooronbai Jeenbekov, dominated the ballot in this former Soviet republic in Central Asia, reputed to experience a certain pluralism, but regularly shaken by political crises.
Protesters stormed the building housing the parliament and presidential administration in Bishkek at dawn on Tuesday, several media reported. Photos released by the Kyrgyz service of Radio Free Europe showed protesters strolling through the main center of power in Kyrgyzstan. Several other local media also reported the building being taken over by protesters.
Kyrgyzstan’s president said on Tuesday that he was still in control of the situation in the country. Sooronbai Jeenbekov “Controls the situation and expressed confidence that the political forces will place the country’s interest above their own”, let know the Presidency.
“The Kyrgyz elections went well overall and candidates were able to campaign freely. But credible allegations of vote buying raise serious concern “said Thomas Boserup, head of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) mission to observe the elections. He also noted that the “Health protocols were not always applied systematically”, despite the surge in Covid-19 cases in the country this summer.
The Birimdik and Mekenim Kyrgyzstan parties, in favor of Bishkek’s further integration into the Moscow-promoted Eurasian Economic Union, each won 25% of the vote, after 98% of the ballots were counted.
Birimdik has the president’s younger brother in its ranks, while Mekenim Kyrgyzstan is suspected of representing the interests of the clan of Rayimbek Matraimov, a former official targeted by anti-corruption protests last year.
The Kyrgyzstan Party, close to the president, is also expected to remain in Parliament with more than 8% of the vote. Two other parties, one nationalist and the other founded by a former prime minister, are waiting to see if they have passed the 7% threshold required to enter parliament.
Democratic exception in Central Asia
The three parties that failed to meet this threshold staged two protests, one involving a few hundred people and the other several thousand. In one of them, a candidate from an opposition party promised to bring together “20,000 to 30,000 people and peacefully overthrow” the government, eliciting applause from the crowd.
In the late afternoon, police broke up the rallies, which took place in different parts of the city, with stun grenades. Dozens of protesters climbed the gates of government headquarters in the center of town, prompting law enforcement to also use tear gas, a correspondent for Agence France-Presse (AFP) said. Riot police then pursued the demonstrators who had dispersed there into the adjacent streets.
“More than 120 people have been hospitalized, several in serious condition”, the Kyrgyz health ministry said in a statement, adding that about half were “Law enforcement officials”.
Surrounded by authoritarian regimes, Kyrgyzstan, a mountainous and poor country, is a democratic exception in Central Asia, even though it has experienced two violent revolutions, in 2005 and 2010, and political transitions have always been rough. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, observers this year feared vote buying in a difficult economic context for the population.