Kyrgyzstan: Electing a New President
On 30 October, Kyrgyzstan held an election to choose a successor to interim President Rosa Otunbayeva. IFES Program Manager Anthony Bowyer, along with other IFES staff members, visited polling stations throughout the day. Bowyer answered a few questions about his experience from Novopalovka, Kyrgyzstan.
Question: How was the turnout?
Answer: Officially it was around 60 percent. Many Uzbeks in the south of the country refused to vote. However, in spite of some problems with voters being left off of voters' lists, the option of having an "electoral address" enfranchised many voters who otherwise would not have voted at all. The "electoral address" option was due to a law that was recently passed to give internally displaced voters the ability to vote using their current address.
Q: What is the complaints process and how long does it last?
A: Candidates and their representatives have two days to file complaints, and must receive a response within three days after that. The decisions can be appealed to the next highest election commission or to the court of original jurisdiction, all the way up to the Supreme Court. However, one weakness of the law is that complaint deadlines are not expressed precisely enough to be certain exactly when they expire.
Q: When can we expect final results?
A: The CEC Chairman Abdraimov has already announced the winner as being former Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev, with 63 percent of the vote. The official certification of results could happen this week, provided there are no legal challenges. Two main opponents, Adakhan Madumarov and Kamchibek Tashiyev, so far have eschewed legal challenges in favor of street demonstrations. The road from Bishkek to Osh was briefly closed today as supporters of Tashiyev attempted to sever the main north-south artery. Police intervened and removed the demonstrators.
Q: It seems these elections could help solidify Kyrgyzstan’s democracy. What exactly do these elections signify?
A: The elections represent an opportunity to unify the country and break from an authoritarian past, if they are perceived as fair and representative of the will of the people. However, many persons in the south will not accept any result that has a candidate other than Madumarov or Tashiyev winning. One consolation that could defuse tensions would be for Atambayev to negotiate the prime ministership for one of his main electoral opponents.