Will Bakiyev Save Himself Through Dialogue (Again)?
The pressure on President Bakiyev in Kyrgyzstan is mounting. With the date of November 2 set for a large protest that will demand the President’s resignation if his election promises are not fulfilled, Bakiyev is looking for ways to establish a dialogue with those who oppose him. A similar strategy worked for Bakiyev last May when he diffused the impact of a large opposition protest by inviting his opponents to a televised discussion. The question is whether it can work again without the implementation of actual reforms.
Yesterday, Kyrgyzstan held its second “Civic Forum,” and the government was represented by Prime Minister Felix Kulov and Vice Prime Minister Daniyar Usenov. Also in attendance were numerous opposition political figures and a large number of NGO representatives. Kulov suggested that the government had to be more responsive to civic demands, but he noted that reforms should be carried out through constitutional reform rather than through public protest. Bolat Sherniyazov of the “For Reform” bloc of opposition parties, however, stated after the forum that Kulov had not sufficiently addressed the demands of the people and that his words only reinforced the resolve of the opposition with regards to the November 2 protest. Usenov seemed to be carrying Bakiyev’s main message to the Forum, which was a call for dialogue between NGOs, parties, and the government. The Forum ended with the adoption of a list of demands to be made of the President and the government. The Forum’s demands differed little from those already presented by the “For Reform” bloc, suggesting that the Forum’s participants were also ready to support the November 2 protests.
Shortly after the Forum, the press service of the president reiterated the point made by Usenov at the Forum, calling for the establishment of a roundtable with the president, NGOs, and political parties in the very near future. While the president appears to be calling for dialogue, he is also already responding negatively to some demands of the “For Reform” bloc. He has already made his case, for example, as to why it would be impossible to transform the state broadcasting service into public broadcasting, despite his election promise to do so. Without making some real concessions such as the establishment of public broadcasting, can Bakiyev broker a deal with the opposition? Or, will dialogue without action be too little too late to save the President? November 2 will be upon President Bakiyev quicker than he might think.