Kyrgyzstan to hold presidential election

This Central Asian nation that hosts a key US military air base votes Thursday in a presidential election that is almost certain to tighten the incumbent's grip on power in the former Soviet republic, reported AP.

If re-elected, Kurmanbek Bakiyev is expected to continue his impoverished country's policy of playing Moscow against Washington in an effort to win aid from both.

Bakiyev campaigned on a platform of stability, appealing to the electorate's desire to see an end to political turmoil. But the opposition accuses him of using intimidation to help ensure the continuation of his rule and says he is taking the country - once viewed as the region's beacon of democracy - down the path of authoritarianism.

"Security service officers have literally been going from house to house threatening people so that they would not go to opposition meetings," said opposition candidate Almazbek Atambayev.

Since coming to power in the wake of the 2005 popular uprising that toppled the former president, Bakiyev has largely lived up to promises to increase government spending, boosting salaries and pensions in the process. Those achievements have been undermined by rampant inflation, however, while the effect of the global financial crisis on Russia and Kazakhstan has had a devastating impact on the local economy, which relies heavily on remittances and trade.

According to a recent International Monetary Fund report, growth in the Kyrgyz economy could almost come to a halt in 2009, after years of relatively robust performance.

Rampant unemployment, electricity shortages, pervasive corruption and rising crime rates are also deepening discontent.

In an effort to offset those economic difficulties, Bakiyev has over the past few months deployed his diplomatic wiles to secure more than $2 billion in aid and loans from Moscow. The financial support was widely seen as in exchange for closing the U.S. air base, which the Kremlin has long viewed with suspicion.

Yet although Bakiyev announced in February that the U.S. would be evicted from the Manas base used to ship supplies to troops in Afghanistan, his government later agreed to a new lease that will see Kyrgyzstan earn $60 million in annual rent, more than triple the previous amount, plus a further $120 million in investment and aid.

"Dubbed Central Asia's 'Island of Democracy' over the past decade and a half, the country has of late resembled its more authoritarian neighbors and continues to be at the center of a mini 'Great Game' power struggle between, among others, the United States and the Russian Federation," said Anthony Bowyer, the Central Asia program manager at IFES, a Washington-based democracy-building group.

Domestic critics say Bakiyev's muscular brand of leadership could eventually turn Kyrgyzstan into yet another of the despotic regimes that abound in the region.

"What we see now is a monopolization of power by one force," said Bakyt Beshimov, who is running opposition candidate Atambayev's campaign.

In 2007, the pro-Bakiyev Ak Zhol party won 71 seats out of 90 in a parliamentary election that international election observers said was marked by voter intimidation and misuse of state resources.

The scale of the Bakiyev campaign machine also ensures that he will have little difficulty in securing a comfortable victory. Gargantuan billboards bearing Bakiyev's name are placed liberally around the capital, Bishkek, and the president enjoys vastly more television and radio coverage than any of the other five registered candidates. Atambayev's campaign has relied mostly on small posters stuck on lampposts, which his team says are regularly ripped down within hours of being put up.

Even so, pro-government politicians are sensitive to suggestions that the elections will be unfair and say the opposition has been hasty in judging the outcome.

"The child hasn't been born yet, and they are already saying he is bad and an idiot," said lawmaker Tabyldy Orozaliyev, who heads Bakiyev's campaign team.

The Kyrgyz government initially sought to limit the number of observers from the election monitoring arm of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to 150, said Radmila Sekerinska, who heads the body's election observation mission in Kyrgyzstan. After talks with Kyrgyz officials, the mission was able to put 200 observers on the ground, she said.

Ultimately, it is widespread apathy that is most likely to favor the current regime, after years of turbulence marked by violent street protests and political infighting.

"It is unfortunate to have to say this, but by force of inertia, most people will go toward the party of power," said Mars Sariyev, an independent Kyrgyz political analyst.

President Ilham Aliyev: Azerbaijani Army liberated Minjivan settlement and 13 villages of Zangilan district
President Ilham Aliyev: Azerbaijani Army liberated Minjivan settlement and 13 villages of Zangilan district
Armenia once again betrays Russia
Armenia once again betrays Russia
President Ilham Aliyev: Azerbaijani Army liberates 3 villages of Fuzuli district, 5 villages of Jabrayil district
President Ilham Aliyev: Azerbaijani Army liberates 3 villages of Fuzuli district, 5 villages of Jabrayil district
Loading Bars
Latest
Brazil's COVID-19 death toll tops 155,000
5.2-magnitude quake hits 52 km SSW of Lithakia, Greece
Canada PM Trudeau wins backing of opposition party to avoid snap election
Moscow's death toll from confirmed COVID-19 cases rises by 66
Spain's COVID-19 cases top 1 mln
UAE sends fifth medical aid plane to Kazakhstan in fight against COVID-19
Jens Stoltenberg: Georgia, Ukraine are valuable partners of NATO
Iran sees Russia as key defense partner
France's new daily COVID-19 cases above 25,000 again
President Ilham Aliyev: Azerbaijani Army liberated Minjivan settlement and 13 villages of Zangilan district
Armenia once again betrays Russia
President Ilham Aliyev: Azerbaijani Army liberates 3 villages of Fuzuli district, 5 villages of Jabrayil district
Armenian side forced to recognize Azerbaijani army’s superiority - Defense Ministry
Armenia's defensive system, military equipment and terrorists didn't help - Azerbaijan's MoD
Liberation of Zangilan to increase production and export of Azerbaijan's mineral resources
Morocco's import of Turkey's jewelry, precious stones drops
Turkey's export of jewelry, precious stones to Iran decreases - Trade Ministry
Armenia has no interest in peaceful settlement of Karabakh conflict - top official
France reduces imports of jewelry, precious stones from Turkey
Georgia's import of Turkey's jewelry, precious stones down for 9M2020
Car prices in Iran drop
Iraq likely to unblock Iran's assets
Iran continues to increase non-oil exports
Supplies of jewelry from Turkey to Iraqi market decline in 9M2020
Dissemination of inaccurate info by some websites not to affect Qatar-Azerbaijan relations - embassy
Kazakhstan’s ERG Service to establish foundry products export to Uzbekistan
Turkish jewelry supplies to Azerbaijani market plunge
No diplomatic way to resolve Karabakh conflict, admits Armenian PM
Georgia implementing new project to provide remote villages with internet
Actual revenues to Azerbaijan's budget from State Customs Service top forecast
SOCAR details plans for expanding gas distribution network in Georgia
Iranian Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale October 24
Compound feed producing plant to be commissioned in Almaty
Most Azerbaijani monuments in occupied territories Armenianized or destroyed
Georgia reveals TOP 5 banks with highest interest on loans
Uzbekistan reveals growth rate of investments spent in fixed assets for 9M2020
China's import of jewelry, precious stones from Turkey slumps
EU leaders to hold COVID-19 video-conference October 29
Iran's Persian Gulf Star Oil Company boosts its exports
Turkey increases export of jewelry to US - Ministry of Trade
Transfers by Azerbaijan's State Oil Fund to state budget for 9M2020 revealed
Union of Importers of Oil Products of Georgia talks adoption of new standard for diesel fuel
Subsidies for agriculture dev't allocated in Kazakhstan's Almaty region
Price of mobile internet down in Georgia
Data on sales in foreign currency at Turkmenistan’s exchange in September
Bahar Azadi gold coin price continues to fall in Iran
Fitch Ratings notes Georgia’s ability to comfortably meet its funding needs
Volume of paid salaries decreases in Georgia
Germany's 9M2020 import of Turkish jewelry shrinks
President Ilham Aliyev interviewed by Japan’s Nikkei newspaper (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan, Russia enhancing bilateral co-op on innovative dev't, digital economy
Uzbekistan resumes flights to UAE's Sharjah
Eni sets timeframe for wind farm construction in Kazakhstan
Azerbaijan itself implementing UN Security Council resolutions
Azerbaijan reveals state budget revenues, expenditures for 9M2020
Students of Baku Higher Oil School donate their scholarship allowances to Armed Forces Assistance Fund
Amount of investments made to launch of enterprises in Iran increases
Uzbekistan suspends gold export
Khazar Consortium opens tender for purchase of fire-fighting equipment
Georgia's import of tubes, pipes, hollow profiles from Turkey up
Three more UAVs of Armenia destroyed
Ambassador of Mexico met with Executive Director of SOFAZ
Russian entrepreneurs, well-known arm dealers involved in arming Armenia - President Aliyev
Uzbekistan considers state budget for 2021 taking into account COVID-19
Exports of knitwear from Georgia to Turkey down
Armenia creating suicide squads consisting of prisoners sentenced to death
UAE increases exports to Kazakhstan amid COVID-19
Chevron expresses will for further co-op with Kazakhstan in energy sector
Azerbaijani agency joins int'l public-private partnership association
Azerbaijani, Russian FMs meet
Exports of furniture, wood from Turkey to Turkmenistan increased
Nasdaq profit surges 76% on non-trading business strength
Georgian air company Air Georgia implements new project with United Arab Emirates
Weighted average rental rates reduce on Georgian main high streets
Azerbaijan's victory in Karabakh conflict beneficial to all parties, Russian expert says
Azerbaijan to build power supply stations in deoccupied districts
Geostat reveals volume of ferroalloys exported by Georgia to Turkey
EAEU reveals export of Turkmen vehicles
Georgia sees increase in export of flours, meals, pellets to Turkey
Operating performance of financial institutions improves in Georgia
Georgia reduces import of medicaments from Turkey
Wood, furniture exports from Turkey to Ukraine decline
Iran reveals its COVID-19 data for October 21
We drove Armenian army out of our lands so fast that they fling up their heels - President Aliyev
Azerbaijan confirms 176 more COVID-19 recoveries
Military equipment abandoned by Armenian army on battlefield (PHOTO / VIDEO)
President Ilham Aliyev on possibility of observers introduction
At the last moment Armenian refused to return Kalbajar and Lachin, says president of Azerbaijan
Iran restarts extraction from Sulabdar oil field
Azerbaijan reaffirms position on Lachin corridor which is part of fundamental principles - President Aliyev
President Aliyev says no country helping Azerbaijan in fight with Armenia
If Armenian side says it is ready to withdraw troops from occupied territories, issue of so-called observers can be considered - President Aliyev
Azerbaijan wants peace, also territories that rightfully belong to it - President Aliyev
Full responsibility for what is happening now lies squarely with Pashinyan, says Azerbaijani president
We are offered to make concession to Armenia, unilateral concession, while nothing being offered in return - President Aliyev
Azerbaijan ready to suspend military operations, resolve issue at negotiating table - President Aliyev
Armenia’s terrorist authorities must be punished – Azerbaijani MP (VIDEO)
Georgia, UK aim to strengthen business and commercial ties
Volume of market services in Uzbekistan’s transport sector remains predominant despite decrease
Azerbaijan to issue support for children who lost parents after Armenia's Ganja attack (PHOTO)
All news