Experts: Referendum can provoke new wave of unrest in Kyrgyzstan

Experts: Referendum can provoke new wave of unrest in Kyrgyzstan

Azerbaijan, Baku, June 19 / Trend V.Javoronkova /

Holding a referendum to amend the constitution of Kyrgyzstan can provoke a new wave of unrest in the country, experts say.

"If it's so [Bakiyev's supporters are involved in organizing unrest ], then the Interim Government really has every reason to believe that inter-ethnic and inter-clan strife in the country can be repeated just before the referendum to disrupt it and to discredit the new Kyrgyz authorities," - Dimitry Popov, the Russian expert on Central Asia told Trend.

Unrest in Kyrgyzstan in the form of inter-ethnic clashes between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks began in the city of Osh in the south of on the night of June 11. Then the riots spread to the Jalal-Abad region. For several days in the areas of unrest, massacres and burning were committed. At present, there are over 100,000 refugees from the Kyrgyz Republic. According to latest official data, 191 people were killed during the riots.

June 18, a wave of rumours about the ethnic conflicts, emerged now in the north of the Republic spead all over the country.

The country's authorities deny rumors on ethnic conflicts, allegedly emerged in the north of the country in the regional center of the city of Karakol, the Interim Government's press service representative told RIA Novosti June 18.

"Employees of the State National Security Service denied the information after verifying it. The Interim Government's Office held its own investigation, by getting in touch on the phone with several residents of Karakol, who said everything was quiet in the city," the Agency's interlocutor said.

However, experts do not exclude that a referendum to amend the constitution, scheduled for June 27, can provoke a new wave of ethnic clashes.

It is hard to imagine that in this situation it is possible to advisably conduct a referendum, the European expert on Central Asia Igor Torbakov beleives.

"Osh is the second largest city of Kyrgyzstan, the southern capital, and most of the city is destroyed. About 100,000 Uzbeks - the citizens of Kyrgyzstan, the potential voters have fled and are in terrible condition in refugee camps on the Uzbek side, and I doubt that they will be able to return by June 27," Torbakov, an expert from the Finnish Institute of International Affairs said.

However, he believes that holding the referendum without the participation of the population of south of the country is impossible.

"Holding a referendum only in the northern part of the country is absurd, and it is straight way for civil war", Torbakov said.

But, on the other hand, any delay with the referendum will emphasize the illegitimate nature of this government, and therefore all versions associated with the provocation receive the support, the expert says.

According to Popov, an expert of Russia's Institute for Strategic Studies, the probability of new outbreaks of unrest remains at a high level.

The concerns on new unrest related with the suggestions that the recent inter-ethnic clashes in Osh are initiated by President Bakiyev's supporters or financed his surroundings, he believes, and if so, it is reasonable to assume that the riots will emerge again.

"I think that the probability of a new round of conflicts inside Kyrgyzstan remains high, and, first, because there are still fundamental conditions for its escalation: a struggle for power is underway, there are repressive actions against the old elites, the society remains divided into ethnic and geographically-clan characters- and all this against the background of profound social and economic crisis ", Popov said

According to him, in these circumstances "Kyrgyz fire can break out both from its own heat, and from an external blow," but one can expect a reiteration of events firstly in the south of the country.

Despite the claims of the Interim Government that it did not intend to postpone or cancel the referendum, the European expert on post-Soviet countries Licinia Simao believes that it is unlikely to be held.

According to Simao, employee of the University of Coimbra (Portugal), there is a possibility of further violation on the eve of the referendum and in the coming weeks.

"The fact that exactly the organizer of this violence is still unknown, and opportunities of the Interim Government are limited makes the possibility of further violence quite real, especially in the context of the development of the situation of power vacuum," Simao said.

E.Ostapenko contributed to this article

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