Parliamentary majority coalition collapses in Kyrgyzstan

The governing coalition in Kyrgyzstan’s parliament, formed by three parties just three days ago, has split.

The coalition broke up after deputies voted on Thursday night against the Ata-Meken (Fatherland) socialist party’s leader Omurbek Tekebayev, who had been nominated for speaker. He was supported by 58 deputies, while 59 voted against him. The coalition had 67 of the 120 mandates in the parliament.

A recess was declared in the parliament’s work for a few days until a new coalition is formed, acting Supreme Council Chairman Tashbolot Baltabayev said on Friday.

The Social Democrats’ leader in the parliament Almazbek Atambayev, who formed the coalition, wants President Roza Otunbayeva to ask another party to form a majority.

Otunbayeva asked the Social Democratic party’s leader to form a coalition on November 11. She said at the time that the right of the second attempt belongs to the pro-government Ata-Meken party leader, Tekebayev. However, the Supreme Council’s chairman said on Friday it had been “a political statement.” Now it is for the president to decide who will form a new majority.

A seasoned veteran in Kyrgyzstan’s politics, Omurbek Tekebayev has always found himself among the opposition, even as top state officials were replaced. He became a parliamentarian in the late Soviet years and continued his career in politics from the very first day of his country’s independence.

He was among the founders of the Ata-Meken party, which mostly used socialist rhetoric, but he was also the author of the infamous Kyrgyz law that provided that Kyrgyz voters should have one of their fingers permanently marked with invisible ink to prevent election violations (the law has been blasted by human rights organizations in Kyrgyzstan and abroad).

Tekebayev ran for presidency in 1995 and 2000, both times without significant success, but he became the speaker of the parliament after the 2005 parliamentary poll. However, the opposition claimed the elections were rigged and started mass protests that led to the so-called Tulip Revolution – the toppling of President Akayev and repeated elections, which ended with Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s victory. Tekebayev acted as a middleman in negotiations between the two sides and remained the leader of the parliament for a short time. However, in 2006 a conflict with President Bakiyev led to Tekebayev’s resignation from his post and the start of the new movement “For Reforms!”

The movement started a campaign calling for resignation of the country’s President and Prime Minister. The standoff lasted till 2010, when the Kyrgyz population started mass protests over inflation and corruption in the state bodies. President Bakiyev replied by declaring an emergency situation in the country and arresting Tekebayev, who was accused of instigating the tensions. However, the protesters forced the president and his government to resign, and Tekebayev was freed and appointed deputy chairman of the provisional government, headed by opposition leader Roza Otunbayeva.

Otunbayeva was elected president in July 2010 and Tekebayev resigned from his post to take part in the parliamentary elections. But his Ata-Meken party got very little support from voters in the October elections, which forced Tekebayev to seek a coalition with other party leaders, who accused him of using the property of the ousted president and his family and also of mismanaging budget funds.

Meanwhile, many in the Kyrgyz parliament are blaming the Respublika party for the collapse of the governing coalition. The responsibility for the break-up rests with some of the deputies from this party, who voted against Tekebayev’s nomination, a source in the parliament told Interfax. He added that some deputies opposed his candidacy “from the start.”

The parliamentary elections in Kyrgyzstan were held on October 10. Five out of 29 political parties managed to overcome the required five-per cent threshold.