‘Constructive opposition’ creates a shadow government in Kyrgyzstan

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BISHKEK (TCA) — Several political parties and public organizations have created a shadow government in Kyrgyzstan.

Leader of Taza Kyrgyzstan (Clean Kyrgyzstan) party Marat Imankulov has been elected prime minister of the shadow cabinet, and leader of the Erk (Free Kyrgyzstan) party Tursunbai Bakir uulu as vice prime minister and foreign minister.

The ceremony to sign a memorandum on the shadow cabinet establishment earlier this month was attended by prominent political figures including ex-Prime Minister Felix Kulov, ex-Foreign Minister Alikbek Jekshenkulov, and ex-Healthcare Minister Naken Kasiev. They supported the idea of creating the shadow cabinet and promised to consider joining it.

The initiators of the move called on other political parties to join the memorandum and criticized the professional level of the current Government.

Goals

According to Imankulov, there are some positive changes in the country but the economic situation is far from being prosperous and the country is facing many problems including unemployment, economic stagnation and the threat of terrorism. The shadow government will help improve the situation, and it opposes neither the highest state authorities nor other political organizations and associations. “We are ready to cooperate with political parties and public associations,” Imankulov said.

Creating a shadow cabinet is considered normal in democratic countries, Imankulov said, pointing to Great Britain, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. The shadow cabinet is a team of senior spokespeople chosen by opposition leaders to mirror the Government and challenge counterparts in the current Cabinet, he said. The opposition wants to become an alternative government-in-waiting, he added.

“The shadow cabinet will analyze the economic processes in parallel with the current Government,” the shadow prime minister said, urging professionals and well-educated patriots to join them “for the interests of the people and for stability in the country”.

Two main principles of democracy are not working in the country — the rule of law and justice, which gives rise to corruption and crime, Imankulov said.

The shadow government will be financed by its members, he added.

“We will be constructive opposition and intend to support the current Government to implement development plans and eradicate corruption, which would increase the state budget twofold or threefold. Creation of a shadow cabinet will prevent chaos and destabilization in the country,” he said. Unrest may occur during the presidential elections, and the Shadow Cabinet is ready to assist the current Government in crisis situations.

However, Kyrgyz citizens have heard such words and promises many times before from various political leaders.

Opinions

The shadow government is a good platform for ex-politicians to chill out their political energy officially and peacefully, and to act as an alternative to radical opposition, experts say.

The presidential race has actually started in Kyrgyzstan, and the creation of the shadow government is a good occasion to make a good PR for politicians to draw the attention of the public and the media.

The presidential election will be held this autumn when the term of President Almazbek Atambayev who heads the country since 2011 expires. According to some experts, early elections are not excluded if Atambayev decides to leave his post before the official deadline.

At his year-end press conference, Atambayev told journalists about the opposition which “works very systematically”. Both Babanov and Torobayev (leaders of opposition parliamentary factions) would be presidential candidates, he said. “I will not predict because everything is changing fast in our country, but I would not be surprised if one of them will become President,” Atambayev said.

Who is who in the shadow cabinet

The composition of the shadow cabinet is not encouraging.

The shadow cabinet’s head Marat Imankulov is a former Deputy Chairman of the State Committee for National Security, and is currently unemployed. He occupied a high position in the security services under the interim government established after the ousting of President Bakiyev in April 2010. He was fired after he had refused to carry out anti-terrorist operations in the south of the country in August of 2011. After that, he started his political career. During the previous presidential elections in 2011, he was nominated as a presidential candidate.

Tursunbai Bakir uulu is known as an eccentric person with ambitions and a great desire to occupy high positions. According to political analysts, he will be a strange foreign minister, taking into account that in January 2009, law enforcement authorities detained him for the attempt to publicly burn the flags of Israel and the United States during a rally in support of Palestinians. He avoided responsibility due to the fact that he had immunity from prosecution for two years after leaving the post of Ombudsman in 2010. In addition, he is known for his unrestrained temper. Last November, he started a brawl in the center of Bishkek with an Internet user over a religious dispute.

Doubts

Some experts are concerned about the presence of a religious party, the Union of Muslims of Kyrgyzstan, in the shadow government.

There are also questions as to why the “constructive opposition” has been created in the run-up to the presidential election. Most of the shadow cabinet members earlier occupied senior government positions but did not offer any effective programs for the country’s development. Now they criticize the current Government and make new promises.

This club of the ex-ministers is hardly in a position to offer an effective development plan for Kyrgyzstan.