On April 11, Kyrgyzstan will head to the polls for the third time in six months to vote on a controversial constitutional referendum that would enhance the political power of the president, allow presidents to run for a second term, and push through initiatives designed to weaken the parliament.
After tumultuous elections and the ousting of former President Jeenbekov in October 2020, Kyrgyzstan is holding early presidential elections and a referendum on constitutional reform on January 10, 2021.
After a month of political upheaval in Kyrgyzstan and the collapse of now-former President Sooronbay Jeenbekov’s government, followed by the rise of Sadyr Japarov, a former convict, to the position of acting president, the country’s political landscape is changing fast.
Kyrgyzstan is in the midst of historic political upheaval, spurred on by nearly three decades of government misrule, a frustrated civil society and the rise of unsavory criminal groups to positions of power. The Central Asian nation looks set for more volatility—and the Kyrgyz people will pay the price.
Like the rest of the world, Central Asian states and societies are being stress-tested by the COVID-19 pandemic. Can they withstand the storm?
Almost 30 years after the collapse of the USSR, Central Asian citizens are growing tired of stagnating economies, rampant corruption, and their governments’ empty promises. In 2019, they made it clear they want improved services, more transparency in decision-making, and better opportunities.
The EU will need to increase its visibility in Central Asia if it wants to have influence in a region facing immense challenges from China and India, but also from Afghanistan and threats of terrorism.
Unlike in Russia and Kazakhstan, an effort in Kyrgyzstan to carefully orchestrate the transition of power backfired.
Brighter prospects for Central Asian integration come amid political and economic liberalization in Uzbekistan, hardening authoritarianism elsewhere in the region, widespread economic distress, and China’s growing influence—the five major trends that marked Central Asia in 2018.
The five states of Central Asia — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan — mark 27 years of independence in 2018.