Political overview since Kyrgyz independence
Since Kyrgyzstan's independence in 1991 until 2005 the republic was ruled by President Askar Akayev. At first, Akayev was considered a liberal President, but his regime turned more authoritarian the longer he was in charge. In 2002 demonstrations against his rule broke out for the first time. Akayev promised to step down from office in 2005 after three presidential terms, but instead he tried to secure his power in other ways. Mass protests erupted in March against his rule following the Parliamentary elections in February 2005, because of the obvious failure to meet (international) democratic standards, such as a balanced media coverage. This led to the Tulip Revolution that officially started on 24 March 2005. The term ‘Tulip Revolution’ was used by Akayev himself in a speech warning that no “Color Revolution” should happen in Kyrgyzstan, after the non-violent Revolution’s in Georgia and Ukraine in 2004. During the Tulip Revolution, the opposition marched to the government building to demand the resignation of President Akayev and after a clash with pro-government protestors, the opposition took over the building. On 24 March 2005 Akayev fled to Kazahkstan and later to Russia where he was invited by President Putin to stay. Subsequently Kurmanbek Bakiyev, opposition leader and former Prime Minister (PM), was appointed as acting PM in March 2005.
Violent anti-government demonstrations April 2010
In April 2010 thousands of demonstrators went out in the streets of the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek and other Kyrgyz cities to air their dissatisfaction with the regime, the high unemployment rate and the high energy prices. When Bakiyev came to power he promised to tackle these problems, but he lapsed into the authoritarian behaviour of his predecessor Akayev. The protests turned violent in Bishkek on 7 April, after President Bakiyev ordered the security forces to arrest some demonstrators. Consequently, protesters started attacking the police and tried to storm the government building by crushing its fences. The police reacted by shooting out opposition demonstrators, killing an estimated 85 of them and leaving many more injured.
The violence continued for several days and at the end of the week President Bakiyev fled to the southern part of the country to seek the support of his followers mostly living there. Meanwhile, on 7 April, the opposition forces formed an interim coalition government, led by the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Roza Otunbayeva. Otunbayeva was the head of the Parliamentary group of the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) since October 2009. On 9 April, she announced plans to call elections in six months. Ultimately Bakiyev fled to Belarus, where he was granted amnesty by Belarusian leader Aleksander Lukashenka. Seven months later, on 17 November, a court in Bishkek began hearing the trial of Bakiyev and 27 of his aides in connection with the deadly shooting of protesters that April. Roza Otunbayeva was inaugurated as the official interim President on 3 July 2010, following the referendum that took place on 27 June 2010.
Ethnic violence June 2010
Tensions between the Kyrgyz and the ethnic Uzbek minority in the south of Kyrgyzstan came to afore at the beginning of June 2010. On 11 June ethnic violence erupted in Osh and Jalalabad, following which about 400.000 Kyrgyz from Uzbek descent were forced to leave their homes and approximately 100.000 resided in refugee camps in Uzbekistan. According to official numbers over 400 people were killed, but the real number of casualties is estimated to be several times higher. By the end of June the situation was stabilised, but the sudden outbreak of ethnic violence clearly illustrates the difficulties Kyrgyzstan is dealing with.
It is thought that the ouster of Bakiyev who supported the Kyrgyz in the south contributed to those tensions, but the exact reason that sparkled the ethnic clashes is not clear. Fourteen percent of he Kyrgyz population is made up of Uzbek people. However, in the southern cities they make up one-third of the population. The Uzbek in the south mainly support the interim government, while many Kyrgyz back former President Bakiyev. Interim leader Otunbayeva acknowledged that her government was not able to ease the tensions in Osh. The Kyrgyz interim government appealed for Russian assistance, but Moscow refused to send in peacekeepers as did the Central Asian countries. Both the UN and the EU raised concerns about the situation.
Presidential elections 2011
On 30 October, presidential elections were held in Kyrgyzstan. The OSCE said the elections were conducted in a peaceful manner, but improvements must be made to comply with international standards. Sixteen candidates competed in the race, but a total of 24 showed up at the ballot, with eight names crossed out because they withdrew from the race shortly before the elections. Almazbek Atambaev, the former prime minister of the Central Asian country, won the elections in the first round with 63 percent of the votes. The turnout was 57 percent.
The campaigns of the candidates focused mainly on personality and how the candidates related to the deep divide between the north and the south of the country. Atambaev campaigned as a leader that might be able to unite the country again, after the violent protests of April 2010. The wealthy businessman had the best-funded campaign and enjoyed significant public exposure by serving as prime minister until the elections. His two main rivals, Madumarov and Tashiev campaigned as nationalists both from the south, with especially Tashiev using harsh rhetoric.
Both the OSCE and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights noted irregularities with regard to the voter rolls. Many names were missing, thus preventing people from voting. There were also problems with counting and tabulation of votes in some districts, with observers being completely barred from this part of the process. The OSCE also reported that media were severely restricted in their reporting on the campaigns in hopes of preventing biased journalism. Finally, it was noted that the Central Election Commission, although impartial in its work, should strive to be more open in order to raise public confidence. Most of its meetings were behind closed doors.
Parliamentary elections October 2010
On 10 October Parliamentary elections were held in Kyrgyzstan. Twenty-nine parties competed in the race, representing just a fifth of Kyrgyzstan’s registered political parties. According to the new constitution one of the requirements for parties to register for elections is to have a list of 120 candidates. An other reason for the low amount of representation is the fact that a lot of parties are inactive, have a low amount of members and revolve around one or two key figures. The political party structure of Kyrgyzstan is relatively fragmented and in an ongoing process of development. The Ata-Zhurt party, led by former officials of ousted President Bakiyev’s
government, finished first with 8.89% of the votes. The Social Democratic party followed with 8.04% of the votes. The final turnout was 55.9%. In total only five parties passed the threshold of 5% to obtain seats in the parliament. The ceiling is that no party can obtain more than 65 of the 120 seats parliament.
|Party||% of eligible votes||Seats|
|Social Democratic Party||8.04||26|
In the run-up to the elections the Ata-Zhurt party was expected to win seats in the parliament. However, polls that had been taken during the election campaign did not indicate the party would finish first. Ata-Zhurt has been critical of the outcome of the constitutional referendum, and it had campaigned on a strongly nationalist platform. According to Kyrgyz analysts the party was able to overcome its unpopularity in the north of the country due to its strong support in the south.
Despite some reported flaws and irregularities, the OSCE praised the elections as free and fair and stated that the election results “reflected the will of the people,” adding that it “constituted a further consolidation of the democratic process and brought the country closer to meeting its international commitments on democratic elections.” About the election campaign international observers stated that it was highly competitive and “political parties were generally able to campaign freely without major impediments or incidents.”
On 17 December 2010 the Kyrgyz parliament approved a new government coalition of the Respublika Party, together with the Social Democratic Party, and the Ata-Zhurt Party. They controlled 77 out of 120 seats in the parliament. Previously a coalition of the Social Democratic Party, Respublika and Ata Meken had been formed, but it collapsed after it failed to elect a new speaker of parliament. The new government had eighteen ministries, and included PM Almazbek Atambayev (SDP). In October 2011, after the presidential elections, Atambayev succeeded Otunbayeva as President of Kyrgizstan. With Atambayev vacating the office of PM, party factions consulted to organize a new government. In December 2011, a new broad coalition majority was formed between SDP, Ata Meken, Respublika and Ar Namys, whilst Ata Yurt went into opposition. PM Omurbek Babanov, (Respublika) became the new PM. In August 2012 this broad coalition collapsed because representatives of the Ata-Meken and Ar Namys parliamentary faction withdrew, accusing Babanov of abuse of power and involvement in corruption. On 27 August the SDP received a mandate from the President to form a new government. On 3 September, the former partners agreed on a new majority coalition without Respublika. Together the coalition holds a 69-seat majority in the 120-member parliament. The three parties unanimously voted to nominate current Presidential Office Head Zhantoro Satybaldiev (SDP) to be the new PM.
Constitutional Referendum 27 June 2010
On 27 June 2010 the Kyrgyz voted in a referendum for the introduction of a Parliamentary democracy after the ethnic unrest in the preceding weeks. Many people were unsure whether to proceed with the referendum considering the many (Uzbek) people who were homeless at that time. The interim government decided to pursue the referendum, because it would also give legitimacy to the new government. Over 90 per cent of the participants voted in favour of the proposed constitution.
According to the new constitution, no political party can be created on religious or ethnic grounds, and members of the armed forces, police, and the judiciary are not allowed to join a political party. Another significant change is that the President has lost the right to appoint all 13 members of the Central Election Commission. That key electoral body now consists largely of independent civil society leaders.
The voter turnout was nearly 70 percent. OSCE monitored the elections and stated that “although there were evident shortcomings, the reported high turnout indicates citizens' resilience and desire to shape the future of their country”. Some Uzbeks had problems with voting, because their passports were destroyed during the riots or they were afraid to leave their neighbourhoods to vote. The interim government decided that people could vote without their passport if they registered their home address at a municipal office. Overall, the international election commissions administered the process in a largely transparent, collegiate and timely manner.
Women make up 52% of the Kyrgyz society and 42,5% of the Labour force. Article 3 of the Constitution of Kyrgyzstan prohibits all discrimination on the grounds of gender, ethnic origin or religious belief. The civil, penal, labour and family codes of Kyrgyzstan all uphold equal rights and the legal framework protecting Kyrgyz women’s rights complies with international standards. However, discrimination against women and violence against women is becoming increasingly widespread. Women are generally ill-informed about their rights and the traditional patriarchal system perpetuates gender-based stereotypes. In Kyrgyzstan 28 of the 120 seats in parliament are allocated to women, which makes up 23.3% of the seats.
Political parties in the republic are highly personified. People tend to vote for a person rather than for the party’s ideology or program. Accordingly, the political parties focus on their list of candidates which they constitute out of people enjoying popularity and influence among the population. Similarly, most politicians do not regard political parties as much more than a vehicle to get into the Parliament. One of the results is the existence of more then hundred political parties in the republic.
Social Democratic Party (SDPK)
Chairperson: Almazbek Atambayev
The Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan (SDPK) was founded in 1993 by Abdygany Erkebaev, who was replaced by Amazbek Atambayev as its chairman in 1999. The party formed a coalition with the larger El Party in preparation for the February 2005 parliamentary elections. The SDPK emphasizes a socially oriented development, economic revival and has been a great pleader for the establishment of a parliamentary system. The party played an important role in the Tulip Revolution of 2005 and in large-scale public protests against the Bakiev government in April and November 2006. Prominent members are Roza Otunbayeva the interim President from April 2010 until December 2011 and the current President of Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Atambayev. Because the party is one of the few parties in Kyrgyzstan that genuinely calls for a liberal democracy, it has good ties with the west. The party is said to have contacts with the Socialist International (SI), but it does not have any status within the SI. The SDPK came in second in the parliamentary elections of 2010 gaining 26 seats. They formed a coalition with the Respublika Party and the Ata-Zhurt Party.
Fatherland Party (Eta Meken) / Socialist Party
Chairperson: Omurbek Tekebayev
Observer Status at the Socialist International
Omurbek Tekebayev founded Ata-Meken in 1992 following a split from the Erkin Kyrgyzstan party. He has been the party leader ever since. The party participated in all parliamentary elections, winning seats in the Kyrgyz parliament in 1994 and 2000. Tekebayev was Speaker of Parliament from March 2005 till February 2006, but resigned after a clash with former President Bakiyev. The party favours parliamentary democracy and economic reforms and can be considered centre left. It favours a compromise between various social sectors and government bodies. Ata-Meken is popular mostly in the north of Kyrgyzstan. Therefore the party is trying to strengthen its ranks with members of the Parliament representing different regions, hoping to widen its support bases. In the parliamentary elections of 2010 it finished fifth. The party has 18 seats in the parliament.
The Party of Communists
Chairperson: Bumairam Mamaseitova
The Communist Party of Kyrgyzstan (KPK) says to have about 2000 members and is one of the largest parties in Kyrgyzstan. The party was founded in 1992. The party’s ideology could be considered as social democratic. It accepts a pluralistic political system and a market economy but is strongly opposed to the privatization of public assets such as the energy system. Mamaseitova's predecessor was Iskhak Masaliev. He is the son of former party-leader Absamat Masaliev, who led the party until his dead in 2004. Iskhak Masaliev resigned in August 2010 as he was detained in May that year, accused of planning mass disorder and attempting to overthrow the government. His case was sent to court on 25 October 2010. Masaliev said his detention prevented him from campaigning for the parliamentary elections. The Communists failed to garner enough votes in the October parliamentary elections to have seats in the parliament.
Fatherland (Ata Zhurt)
Chairperson: Kamchybek Tashiev
The right-wing party Ata Zhurt won the most seats (28) in the parliamentary elections of October 2010. This was seen as a surprise because the nationalistic party wants to go back to a presidential form of government, something that was just voted against in the referendum in June 2010. The party was founded in 2004 by interim President Otunbayeva (2010-2011) and several others. Otunbayeva however later became a member of the SDPK. Ata Zhurt has a strong base in south Kyrgyzstan, because of its hard-line nationalistic rhetoric and call for economic support of the southern part of the country. The party has warned minorities not to seek equal rights with ethnic Kyrgyz. A few days before the election, on 7 October 2010, the headquarters of the party in Bishkek were seized by a mob calling for the party to be banned. Reason for this uproar is the fact that Ata Zhurt is closely linked to former President Bakiyev and even called for his restoration to power. Ata Zhurt formed a coalition with the Social Democratic Party and Respublika Party.
Chairperson: Felix Kulov
Ar-Namys was founded in 1999 by former Soviet general Felix Kulov. This party quickly became Kyrgyzstan’s leading opposition party against President Akayev. However, the Ar-Namys party was denied registration in the 2000 parliamentary elections and in March that year Kulov was accused of corruption and sentenced to seven years in prison. The party then formed the People’s Congress of Kyrgyzstan electoral alliance together with three other opposition parties in 2001, of which Kulov became the chairperson, although he was still in prison. In 2004, Ar-Namys joined the ‘For Fair Elections opposition alliance’ in preparation for the 2005 elections that would lead to the Tulip Revolution and the ouster of President Akayev. Instead of running for president, Kulov joined forces with Kurmanbek Bakiyev serving as prime minister in President Bakiyev’s government. However he resigned in November 2006 which meant an automatic dismissal of the cabinet. Ar-Namys participated in the 2010 parliamentary elections and came in third with 25 seats. Kulov favours close relations with Russia and visited Russian President Medvedev ahead of the elections. Furthermore, Ar-Namys promised that they would amend the constitution and re-adopt the presidential system in their election campaign. The party also recognizes ethnic diversity as an asset of the Kyrgyz people.
Chairperson: Omurbek Babanov
Respublika is a new party founded in 2010. Unlike other nationalistic parties, the pro-parliamentary party Respublika embraces Kyrgyzstan’s ethnic diversity. Moreover, the party tries to capture the youth vote. In the 2010 parliamentary elections, of the top ten candidates on the party list, the 40-year old leader of Respublika, businessman Omurbek Babanov, was the second oldest, and the youngest being only 25. Babanov (previously deputy prime minister under Bakiyev), is one of Kyrgyzstan’s richest citizens, giving the party considerable financial resources. Due to business considerations, Babanov has welcomed closer ties with both Russia and the European Union, the US and Turkey. Respublika came in fourth in the parliamentary elections of 2010 and currently has 23 seats in parliament. Respublika has formed a governing coalition with Ata Zhurt and the Social Democratic Party. Omurbek Babanov currently is the Prime Minister.
White Falcon (Ak-Shumkar)
Chairperson: Temir Sariev
Ak-Shumkar did not gain any seats in the 2010 parliamentary elections, even though the party was seen as a genuine contender. The party received only 2.6 percent of the votes, far below the threshold of 5 percent. Ak-Shumkar was founded in 2005 as “Union of Democratic Forces”. Its leader, Temir Sariev, was a candidate in the 2009 presidential elections (receiving 7 percent of the votes). The party wants to give more power to the business community and favours free and fair elections.
United Kyrgyzstan (Butun Kyrgyzstan)
Chairperson: Adakhan Madumarov
Butun Kyrgyzstan is a nationalistic party popular in the south of the country, with a leader who previously served as the national security council chief under former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev. The party won 4.8 percent of the votes in the parliamentary elections of 2010, just below the threshold to gain any seats in the parliament.
Chairperson: Muktarbek Omurakunov
The Kyrgyz diaspora has created parties representing the interests of hundreds of thousands of Kyrgyz labour immigrants abroad. They biggest of those parties is called Zamandash, established in 2007. In the 2010 parliamentary elections Zamandash gained 2.1 percent of the vote, gaining no seats.
Chairperson: Azimbek Beknazarov
Asaba was founded in 1990 as an opposition party against former President Akayev and later against Bakiyev. Its leader Beknazarov is a lawyer and longtime opposition activist. Beknazarov was minister of Justice and vice premier in the interim government between 2010 and 2011. Asaba did not participate in the 2010 parliamentary elections.
Bright Way (Ak Jol People’s Party)
This party was founded by former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev on 15 October 2007 to run in the Parliamentary elections in December 2007. The party won the elections and gained 71 of the 90 seats in Parliament. The party disappeared together with the ouster of former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev.
President of Kyrgyzstan
Leader of the Social Democratic Party
Almazbek Atambayev was born on 17 September 1956 in the village of Arashan in the north of Kyrgyzstan. He graduated at the Moscow Institute of Management with a degree in economics and went into business afterwards, becoming director of manufacturing companies. In 1983 – 1987 he served in the Supreme Council of the Kyrgyz SSR. Atambayev is one of the founding members of the Social Democratic Party and became its chairman in 1999. He ran for President in the 2000 elections, but was unsuccessful. In 2005 and 2006 Atambayev headed the Ministry of industry, trade and tourism, but resigned in April 2006 as he accused Bakiyev of corruption and of blocking reforms. Nonetheless, in April 2007 he became prime minister under Bakiyev as his appointment was seen as a concession to the opposition. However, in November 2007 he resigned again, because of Bakiyev’s nepotism and corruption. He participated in the 2009 presidential elections as a candidate and received about 8 percent of the vote. Together with others he claimed there were mass violations, but his protest was unsuccessful.
After the ouster of President Bakiyev, interim President Roza Otunbayeva appointed Atambayev as interim Deputy Prime Minister and interim Minister of economic affairs. On 17 December 2010 he was chosen to be Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan, in a coalition government with the SDP, Respublika and Ata Zhurt after the parliamentary elections. Subsequently Atambayev won 60% of the votes in the presidential elections of October 2011. At his swearing-in he urged unity among political camps. “Without stability, he said, Kyrgyzstan had no future.” Mr Atambayev wants to guide Kyrgyzstan towards a Russia-dominated Customs Union zone, and has spoken of Kyrgyzstan's "common future" with its neighbours and Russia. He said after his election that the US air base at Manas - a logistics hub for the Afghan conflict - should be shut down when its lease expires in 2014. His support base is in the Russian-leaning north of Kyrgyzstan.
Social Democratic Party
Jantoro Satybaldiev (1956) was born in the village of Mirza-Aki in the Uzgen region. After graduating at the Engineering and Construction Faculty at the Frunze Polytechnic Institute in Moscow in 1979, Satybaldiev worked as a construction foreman in various road constructions. In 1992 he became First Deputy Minister of Transport and in 1997 Minister of Transport and Communication. From 2000, he headed the administration of the city of Osh. One year later he became mayor of the same city (Kyrgyz’ second largest). In 2003 the future PM was appointed Special Deputy of the President of Kyrgyzstan’s electronic security. After the Tulip revolution in March 2005 he was elected as a Deputy for the Parliament. In 2006 Satybaldiev became Governor of Kyrgyzstan’s southern region. In 2007, he was dismissed by President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, because of shortcomings in his work. In June 2010, as a result of the post-riot constitutional referendum, he returned to the parliament as Vice Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan and as director of the General Direction for the Reconstruction and Development of the cities Osh and Jalal-Abad. From December 2011 through September 2012 he was the President’s Chief of Staff. In September 2012, after the formation of a new parliamentary coalition majority, Satybaldiev became Kyrgyzstan’s new PM. His candidacy was approved by an overwhelming majority of parliament deputies (100 against 2). Satybaldiev is married and has four children.
Leader Ata- Zhurt
Also Kamchybek Tashiev is a relative newcomer to the Kyrgyz political scene and was by many seen as the most controversial of the presidential candidates for the presidential elections in 2011. He has been an member of parliament and served as minister under President Bakiyev. Disagreements led to his resignation in 2009, leaving Mr Tashiev free to emerge as an influential opposition leader as the Bakiyev administration fell. But critics still accuse him of links with the former President. Mr Tashiev 's numerous followers in the cities of Osh and Jalalabad credit him with stopping the bloodshed during ethnic clashes there in June 2010. But his claims that Uzbek community leaders instigated the violence earned him the image of a divisive nationalist, a label that has also been attached to his party Ata Zhurt. Mr Tashiev is known to be a supporter of strong presidential power. Tashiev came third with 14.3 %.
Leader United Kyrgyzstan Party
Adahan Madumarov studied in Russia and Kyrgyzstan and started his media career in newspapers and on state TV. He is an articulate speaker with a sharp tongue who made his name as a young television presenter. His celebrity assured him his way into parliament. Madumarov was a fierce critic of the first Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev. He then took a number of positions in the subsequent Bakiyev government, serving as deputy prime minister, state secretary and later as speaker of the parliament. Adahan Madumarov later fell out with President Bakiyev and became part of the opposition. His party was only established after the ouster of former President Bakiyev. Madumarov promises to bring order and a "dictatorship of law" in the run up to the presidential elections where he became second with 14.75 percent of the vote. He has a solid support in the south of the country.
Felix Kulov (1948) was born in 1948 in Biskek and is a graduate of the Police Academy of the USSR. Kulov held various positions in the Kyrgyz government under the rule of President Askar Akayev. He served as governor of the northern Chui region, as mayor of Bishkek, head of the national security service and he was vice president of the Kyrgyz Republic form 1992 until 1993. During his vice presidency Kulov oversaw the launch of the Kyrgyz national currency, but he was forced to resign over missing gold reserves. Kulov was arrested in 2000 on charges of abuse of official position and imprisoned until being released following the 2005 Tulip Revolution, with all charges being overturned. During these events, Kulov became one of the leading candidates for the presidential elections. He decided, however, to join forces with Bakiyev, becoming his Prime Minister until he and his cabinet resigned over the new constitution in November 2006. The parliament did not accept his re-nomination to the post of Prime Minister in the beginning of 2007, after which Kulov, together with the party, decided to join the opposition forces again, claiming that President Bakiyev tried to get rid of him. Kulov’s party became third in the parliamentary elections of 2010.
Leader of the Ata-Meken Party
Omurbek Tekebayev was born in 1958 in Jalalabad. Tekebayev graduated in physics and in law from the Kyrgyz State National University. In 1991 he was one of the founders of the Erkin Kyrgyzstan National Democratic Party. One year later the party split and he founded the Ata-Meken Party and served in the Kyrgyz parliament from 1995 to 2005. Tekebayev ran for president in 2000, receiving 14 percent of the votes. When Akayev was ousted in 2005 he became the speaker of the new parliament. Tekebayev resigned in 2006 and played a key role in organizing protests against Bakiyev in 2006. He founded the For Reforms Party, demanding reforms from Bakiyev. Tekebayev stepped down as chairman of the party in March 2007, but remained politically active and an outspoken critic of Bakiyev. He was arrested on 6 April 2010 during the violent protests against Bakiyev, bust was released later that day. Tekebayev was appointed to serve as Deputy in charge of carrying out constitutional reforms by interim President Roza Otunbayeva. Despite hailing from the south, Tekebayev is seen by many as one of the few politicians who attracts support (and vehement opposition) across regional cleavages. When the new parliament was formed, Tekebayev was nominated as speaker for the ruling coalition. However, he narrowly failed to win the majority vote required to endorse his candidacy. Ata-Meken subsequently entered opposition as the smallest of the five parties in the national legislature.
Interim President of Kyrgyzstan 2010-2011
Roza Otunbayeva was born on 23 August 1950 in Osh. She graduated from the Philosophy Faculty of Moscow State University in 1972 and went on to teach as senior professor and head of the philosophy department at the Kyrgyz State National University. Her political career began in 1981 in Bishkek as the second secretary of the Lenin “rayon” council of the Communist Party. From 1986-1989 Otunbayeva was the deputy chairwoman of the council of ministers. Subsequently she served as head of the USSR Delegation to UNESCO in Paris and as the Soviet Ambassador in Malaysia. In 1992 Otunbayeva became the Kyrgyz ambassador to the USA and Canada and from 1994 until 1997 she served as the Kyrgyz Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister under Akayev. Atter that she became the Kyrgyz ambassador to the United Kingdom and the United Nations special deputy to Georgia.
Otunbayeva returned to Kyrgyzstan in 2004 and founded the Ata-Zhurt party together with three other opposition parliamentarians. She was a driving force behind protests against Akayev and after the Tulip Revolution she was appointed Foreign Minister by the new President Bakiyev. However the parliament failed to confirm her in the post. Otunbayeva then went into opposition as a member of the Social Democratic Party. She played a key role in the November 2006 protests that pressed successfully for a new democratic constitution, and became highly critical of Bakiyev, saying that his government continued the corruption and nepotism of Akayev. Otunbayeva was elected into parliament in December 2007 and served as head of the parliamentary group of the Social Democratic Party from October 2009.
On 7 April 2010 Otunbayeva was selected by opposition leaders as the interim President, receiving overwhelming popular support in the June referendum. She was the first female interim Head of State in Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia. Otunbayeva was prohibited from running in the following presidential elections that were held in 2011. Her term ended on 1 December 2011 after Almazbek Atambayev was elected in the presidential elections on 30 October 2011.
Former President of Kyrgyzstan
Kurmanbek Bakiyev was born on 1 August 1949 in the current village of Teyyet, in the Jalalabad Province. He graduated from the Kuybyshev Polytechnic Institute in Russia in 1978 and returned to Jalalabad where he had a job as a senior engineer-mathematician and as the director of an electronic industry. Next, he entered politics. From 1990 to 2000 he served in the local and oblast administration, being the head of the Jalalabad oblast from 1995 to 1997 and the Chui oblast from 1997 to 2000. Then in 2001 he became prime minister under Akayev, but was forced to resign over the death of five demonstrators in March 2002. In October that year he was elected to the Kyrgyz parliament. In March 2005 Bakiyev was appointed as the acting Prime Minister and President under Akayev. However, the latter resigned in April after the Tulip Revolution. Consequently, in July 2005, Bakiyev was elected President of Kyrgyzstan, to be re-elected again in 2009. During his presidential term Bakiyev had a difficult relationship with the parliament as they constantly disagreed on the distribution of powers. Moreover, Bakiyev faced public discontent among the Kyrgyz people over the economy, corruption and political fraud, even though he pledged to end nepotism and corruption and to fight poverty. This led to his ouster in April 2010, following violent riots in Bishkek. Bakiyev currently lives in Belarus where he was granted amnesty by Belarusian leader Aleksandr Lukashenka.