Kyrgyzstan. In February and March elections were held for
both chambers of Parliament. The largest was the resurrected
Communist Party, the Party of Kyrgyzstan Communists, whose
support increased in step with the economic difficulties.
But there was confusion about the election result. OSCE
observers explained that the election had not gone right,
and the opposition said it had been deprived of a number of
mandates due to election fraud.
COUNTRYAAH, Feliks Kulov, leader of the country's second largest
party, Dignity, was one of those who did not come into
parliament, and he testified that voters were mutilated and
threatened in his constituency. When Kulov's supporters
demonstrated, the authorities responded by arresting Kulov
and accusing him of abuse of power during his tenure as
Minister of Security in 1997-98. Another opposition leader,
Danijar Usenov, was arrested, accused of involvement in a
fight with officials at Bishkek Airport in 1996.
When US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright visited
Kyrgyzstan in April, she stated with reference to Kulov that
political opponents should not be made criminals. In August,
Kulov was acquitted by a military court of the allegations
of abuse of power, but the verdict was later rescinded.
However, Kulov remained on the loose, but was prevented,
along with about twenty other prospective candidates from
running in the presidential election this fall.
In August, Islamic rebels entered Kyrgyzstan and
Uzbekistan from Afghanistan via Tajikistan. Struggles
continued in Kyrgyzstan for over a month, and authorities
claimed that the rebels lost 120 dead and 200 wounded, while
34 Kyrgyz soldiers were killed.
In October, President Akajev was re-elected for a new
five-year term. According to official data, he received
close to 75% of the vote, while the Deputy Speaker of
Parliament Socialist Party leader Omurbek Tekebajev received
14%. A further four candidates were allowed to stand.
Election workers from the opposition were arrested by police
or prevented from monitoring voting, and international
observers reported extensive electoral fraud. The OSCE
explained that the election had not been fair and free.
Kyrgyzstan's GDP grew by 5% during the first nine months
of the year, and both industrial production and exports
increased significantly. However, agriculture did not go
An international aid organization, the European
Children's Trust, estimated that 88% of the country's
population lives in poverty.
In December, President Akajev appointed a new Prime
Minister, Kurmanbek Bakiev, who was approved by Parliament.