Kyrgyz Vote Front-runner says seeks Broad Coalition
By Dmitry Solovyov
The party that narrowly topped the poll in Kyrgyzstan's general election called on Tuesday for a broad coalition to avert political chaos and hinted it may try to reverse reforms that stripped powers from the presidency.
The poor country is trying to build the first parliamentary democracy in a Central Asian region dominated by post-Soviet strongmen, four months after clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks killed more than 400 people and made thousands homeless.
But divisions among the five parties elected to the newly empowered legislature may make forming a government difficult. More than 60 percent of voters in Sunday's election cast ballots for 24 other parties that failed to secure seats.
Underscoring the discontent and potential for violence among voters of some parties that lost out, supporters of one movement rallied in the southern city of Osh, the scene of the worst ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan's modern history.
Ata-Zhurt, a Kyrgyz nationalist group that won the most votes with 8.8 percent, urged all the parties that won the minimum 5 percent required to gain representation to join forces."For our country to be united and not to collapse, and in order to stop recriminations, we should create a single and broad coalition with all the parties," Ata-Zhurt leader Kamchibek Tashiyev told a news conference.
Analysts predict heated horse-trading, especially since parliament will be the country's main decision-making body, wielding more power than the president.
President Roza Otunbayeva, in power since a bloody revolt which deposed then President Kurmanbek Bakiyev in April, says she will remain in office until December 31, 2011.
Tashiyev said he was ready to cooperate with her, but suggested he could try to call another plebiscite "to ask the nation what it thinks."
"We will prepare a constitution, depending on the form of government chosen by the people," he said without elaborating.
More than 90 percent of Kyrgyz voters backed constitutional changes at a referendum in June to turn Kyrgyzstan into a parliamentary republic.
Ata-Zhurt says it does not want a return to authoritarian rule but the nation is not yet mature enough for parliamentary democracy and needs "a strong state power" to achieve stability and overcome abject poverty.
Big powers watching
The United States, which operates a military air base in the country to support the war in Afghanistan, has vocally supported the plan to create the region's first parliamentary democracy.
Russia, which also has an air base in Kyrgyzstan, opposes the parliamentary model, arguing it could expose the country to more violence or a power grab by Islamist militants.
Up to 1,000 supporters of Butun Kyrgyzstan, a party popular in the south, rallied in Osh, the second largest city, demanding access to local television to voice their protest at what they said was a rigged election, a local reporter told Reuters.
The demonstrators said their party had been robbed of its seats in parliament. Butun Kyrgyzstan finished sixth with 4.84 percent of votes, just below the threshold.
A police officer, speaking by telephone from Osh, estimated the crowd at 200 said the atmosphere was peaceful. He said the party would hold another rally on Wednesday.
While regional powers including neighboring China watch with concern, most experts say the other four parties that won seats will not rush to form a coalition with Ata-Zhurt.
Ata-Zhurt has strong support among ethnic Kyrgyz in the south, including among followers of former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who was ousted in April and lives in exile in Belarus.
The Ar-Namys party of former Prime Minister Felix Kulov, who enjoys Russia's support and staunchly opposes parliamentary rule, received strong backing from ethnic Uzbeks in the south and is unlikely to join a coalition with Ata-Zhurt. Ar-Namys finished third with 7.74 percent of votes.
Analysts say the Social-Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan, which came second with 8.04 percent, the Respublika party (7.24 percent) and Ata-Meken (5.6 percent) could theoretically form a coalition, since all support parliamentary democracy.
But some think Ata-Zhurt could join forces with Respublika, a newly formed party which claims to represent the interests of business groups and advocates economic reforms, Reuters reports.