Baku, Azerbaijan, Feb. 4
By Viktoriya Zhavoronkova - Trend:
Political stability is the main precondition for improvement of people's quality of life in Kyrgyzstan, which has suffered an economic crisis for almost a decade.
Protests over the development of the Kumtor gold deposit in the Issyk-kul oblast of Kyrgyzstan have started again with local people blocking a motor way leading to the province center.
Civil disobedience, organized by the opponents of Kumtor's development by foreign investors started last spring. The organizers of rallies even took the oblast's governor Emilbek Kaptagayev as a hostage last October.
The new wave of demonstrations was caused by the arrest of a local protest organizer Saruu Aybek Saribayev, who participated in the governor's capture.
The protesters were demanding Saribayev's immediate release.
"The situation with the Kumtor mine is a never ending story in Kyrgyzstan", European expert on the Central Asian region Johan Engvall believes.
This issue is highly politicized and since the 1990s the deposit has been used by both the Canadian operator and the Kyrgyz government to strike non-transparent shady deals that have benefited the Canadian-based Centerra as well as a few Kyrgyz officials, but not the Kyrgyz state, a Research Fellow with the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, Engvall noted.
"It is a highly politicized topic and can easily be manipulated by politicians for populist purposes and the recurrent talk about confiscating the mine raised by some Kyrgyz politicians is a way of scoring points with the public in Kyrgyzstan who hold a negative attitude to the way Kumtor has been handled," he added.
Unfortunately, the Kumtor issue is not the only reason for social unrests in Kyrgyzstan. Recent revolutions in the country as well as existing political crisis there demonstrate the level of people's dissatisfaction with the country's internal politics and weakness of the current government.
The renewed protests are not so much a sign of an increasing political crisis, but as a manifestation of Kyrgyzstan's permanent political crisis over the past decade, Engvall said.
But, the expert believes, that nothing would be gained by another "revolution" or upheaval in Kyrgyzstan.
"Such event would just start a new vicious cycle of redistribution of political and economic resources all over again, with negative consequences for the social and economic fabric," he added.
The problem with constant instability in Kyrgyzstan is that it creates such uncertainty that all focus is directed toward the immediate rather than planning or developing policies that would benefit the long-term development of the country and improve living standards.
"The state must help rather than creating obstacles to people to develop businesses and get on with their lives," Engvall said.
In this sense, the current authorities have indicated that curbing corruption and carrying out systemic reforms are a priority and the real challenge is to implement such reforms, which is essential if the quality of public administration is to be improved.
"It is not just enough to become more democratic, as Kyrgyzstan has in recent years, in order to improve human well-being, the quality of governance seems to be of even more importance, and here lies Kyrgyzstan's real problem which must be addressed," the expert said.