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Another one down

Posted by Helen Friday, March 25, 2005

2005 may well turn into another Annus Mirabilis. While the economist Joseph Stiglitz has been warning all those who would listen and many who would not that if Paul Wolfowitz takes over at the World Bank there would be riots in the streets of developing countries, the real demonstrations and riots have been happening for other reasons.

Strangely enough, it is their own oppressive governments and fraudulent elections that people object to. Think Georgia, Ukraine, Lebanon and now Kyrgyzstan, where the demonstrations since the highly unsatisfactory elections last month have brought about the desired result.

The Supreme Court has annulled the result and recognized the outgoing parliament as the legitimate authority. President Akayev is reported to have fled the country with his family and the opposition MP Ishinbai Kadyrbekov has been named as acting president.

The country seems to be in chaos at the moment, though in some places members of the opposition and demonstrators have joined the police to try to restore some order.

The United States has reacted cautiously, expressing a desire to see democracy triumph but also a wait and see attitude. The Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov, one of President Putin’s siloviki, on the other hand, let fly at the opposition and interim government:

“I think that the so-called opposition, which has not controlled anything for a long time, should have the brains to find enough strength to calm down and bring the situation to the plane of political dialogue and not a dialogue of screams,shattering windows, destroying buildings and freeing prisons of criminals.”
One rather wonders why the opposition has had no experience in real politics. There is also the point that the people who have been released from prison are, at present, politicians who had fallen foul of President Akayev. But then, Mr Ivanov would say that.

Still it is true that law and order has broken down in the country, where freedom has never been properly defined in the past. How very different from the election that took place in Iraq in January. We hear an awful lot of how everything is falling apart in that country, but, actually, it is in the other countries that everything is less than harmonious.

And while we are on the subject of harmony, where is the Single European Voice in Kyrgyzstan?