Bruce Pannier: Presidential election in Kyrgyzstan is a remarkable event

The upcoming Presidential election in Kyrgyzstan is a remarkable event for Central Asian region, Bruce Pannier, US expert on Central Asia.

“It is just a little more than two months until the election and it is unclear who will win. Current President Almazbek Atambayev is constitutionally barred from running for a second term, meaning Kyrgyzstan will have a new President before the end of this year,” he said.

The expert noted that as of today, Kyrgyzstan’s Central Elections Commission (CEC) has registered 59 candidates as having expressed an intention to run for Presidency.

“That number will be significantly lower by the election day. I would guess no more than 10 and probably closer to six or seven,” he said.

Candidates still need to hand over signatures from the registered voters (which CEC must verify), then pay admissions fees and pass through several other checks before they are cleared to campaign, according to Pannier.

The expert noted that due to unpredictability of the election it is difficult to say how the country’s internal policies might change.

“In theory, since Kyrgyzstan has a parliamentary-presidential system of governance, the President should not be able to make policy independently from the government. That has not always been the case with Atambayev,” he added.

Talking about foreign policy of the Republic, Pannier stressed that, for sure, Russia will remain an important partner of Kyrgyzstan.

“Whoever becomes the next President of Kyrgyzstan, that person will obligatorily have to keep close ties with Russia. Russia has great influence in Kyrgyzstan, as an economic and a security partner, since Russia has a military base at Kant, some 40 kilometers from Bishkek. Hundreds of thousands of Kyrgyz citizens are working in Russia,” he said.

The same can be said about China, which is also a leading economic partner of Kyrgyzstan, according to Pannier.

“China is providing funds for many important infrastructure projects in Kyrgyzstan, most of them linked to the “One Belt – One Road” initiative, which promises to provide Kyrgyzstan with access to new markets,” he noted.

The big question is what Kyrgyzstan’s relations with the West will be like, as for now it is difficult to predict if the future President’s foreign policy courses towards the United States and Europe, according to the expert.

The next Presidential elections in Kyrgyzstan will be held on October 15, 2017.

A total of 59 candidates were nominated for participation in the forthcoming Presidential race, according to the information published on the Central Election Commission’s website. As many as 49 candidates are self-nominated, while the rest of them were nominated by the political parties.

Country’s current President Almazbek Atambayev lacks the right of running in the upcoming election, as the Kyrgyz law prohibits the country’s citizen from being elected a President for two consecutive terms.

According to the Constitution, the President of the Kyrgyzstan may be elected for a six-year term.
 
 
09.08.2017
 
 
 

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