Return of presidential system among massive political changes in Kyrgyzstan

President Sadyr Zhaparov (Kabar News Agency)

President Sadyr Zhaparov (Kabar News Agency)

By Nurzhan Kasmalieva 

BISHKEK: Kyrgyzstan has elected a new president, formed a new government, reformed the structure of the government, changed the form of government and now wants to amend the main law – the Constitution of the country.

All these changes were started after people’s discontent with the October 4, 2020 parliamentary election results turned into mass gatherings in Kyrgyzstan’s major cities.

The protesters claimed that the election was tarnished by mass vote buying and use of administrative resources.

The parliamentary elections in Kyrgyzstan ended with a political crisis and an unexpected change of government.

The country’s President Sooronbay Jeenbekov resigned and the election results were annulled. The power was actually concentrated in the hands of the new prime minister and concurrently acting president Sadyr Zhaparov who was released amid protest from jail where he was serving time on charges of taking a hostage during the 2013 riots.

On January 10, Zhaparov, 52, won the early presidential elections with a majority of votes and became the sixth president of independent Kyrgyzstan.

Alongside the elections, the referendum on the form of government was held and more than 80 percent of the voters endorsed the presidential form of government.

Thus, after 10 years of parliamentary form of government (parliamentary-presidential in fact), Kyrgyzstan returned to the presidential system.

Zhaparov argued that his initiative to change the form of government was adopted as the parliamentary system did not work in Kyrgyzstan and both the parliamentarism and the party system have discredited themselves.

Now, Kyrgyzstan is on the way to hold a referendum to change the Constitution of the country. The referendum is scheduled for April 11 together with elections of local councils.

The Constitution of Kyrgyzstan has been rewritten nine times over the past 28 years after its adoption on May 5, 1993.

According to the new draft Constitution, the president will be able to appoint and dismiss members of the government, chairmen of state committees and heads of other executive bodies. He can also propose bills, not just approve them. Thus, all executive power will be in the hands of the president and his subordinate government.

The authors also propose a mixed type of parliament, elected by the majority and proportional type, and the number of deputies will be reduced by a quarter, from 120 to 90.

In addition, there will be people’s kurultai defined in the draft as the highest consultative and coordinating body of democracy. This body will be the “overseer” over the president and parliament. The people’s kurultai is entitled to hear reports from the president, the Speaker of parliament and the Speaker of the kurultai.

After Zhaparov’s inauguration, a new government was formed in Kyrgyzstan. The parliament approved a new structure, composition and program of the government.

The composition and structure have changed dramatically. In particular, the number of vice prime ministers has been reduced from four to two. Five ministries remained intact, while the rest changed their names and they were merged with others.

There were 22 members of the government before the changes. According to the new structure, the state bodies are united into 12 ministries, and now there are 16 members of the government. The new authorities explained this by their intentions to create a mobile government and optimize the management system.

Ulukbek Maripov, speaking about his program said that before that, the programs of several governments were approved.

“But, unfortunately, due to the fact that they often changed, the programs also changed. In the end, this negatively affected the development of our country. Therefore, we think that after the referendum, when Sadyr Zhaparov will head the executive branch, God willing, this program will be supplemented and a long-term five-year development strategy will be adopted,” the new prime minister noted.

In his program, Maripov promised to increase significantly the volume of GDP.

“We will also try to reduce poverty and make sure that the income of every family and every citizen increases. Raising the average salary and pensions will be our top priority. Our program will also focus on ensuring that every Kyrgyz citizen has access to quality education and medical care,” he stressed.

Maripov added that his government would pay attention to small and medium-sized businesses, energy and healthcare issues. He also touched upon the topics of regional development, infrastructure improvement and others.

Maripov, 41, is the 32nd head of government in less than 30 years of Kyrgyzstan’s independence. Many of the prime ministers became involved in criminal cases and ended up behind bars. Only 12 prime ministers have not been prosecuted for premiership.

Zhaparov, who attended the ceremony of taking the oath of new cabinet members, said that an active and experienced team that does not know what the fatigue is has gathered in the government.

He noted that a great responsibility is entrusted to members of the government – the adoption of urgent anti-crisis measures to stabilize the economy and eliminate the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the development of a program for sustainable economic growth.

The time will show how the teams of Maripov and Zhaparov will cope with these tasks in such a difficult time.

The Kyrgyz people always hope for better.

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