Kyrgyz government under fire again

By bne IntelliNews August 14, 2012

Clare Nuttall in Astana -

Deputies from several parties within Kyrgyzstan's ruling coalition are once again pushing for a vote of no confidence in the government. The move is just the latest in a campaign to oust Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov, which sprang into life practically on day one of his administration in December 2011, and has prevented the government from dealing with the shattered economy.

Two months after their previous attempt to oust the PM failed, MPs from three of the four parties making up Kyrgyzstan's fragile coalition are again holding meetings on whether to continue backing the government. If they succeed in bringing down the administration it would mark the start of another lengthy period of negotiations to form a new government, and refresh uncertainty for investors.

The Ata-Meken and Ar-Namys parties both voted to support a proposed parliamentary motion of no-confidence at their respective extraordinary meetings on August 13. The Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan (SDPK) - the fourth member of the coalition alongside Babanov's Respublika - is reportedly planning to hold a meeting on the issue in the coming days.

Ata-Meken MPs have accused Babanov of accepting an expensive racehorse as a bribe. Zhoomart Saparbayev claimed that a company carrying out building work at Bishkek's Manas International Airport imported the horse without paying import duties. According to Saparbayev, the horse, which is valued at up to $1.5m, is now in Babanov's possession, AP reported. The party's leader Omurbek Tekebayev has also called for a criminal investigation. However, Babanov's office has dismissed the claims as lies, saying the horse is worth less than $20,000.

Meanwhile, Ar-Namys MPs criticised Babanov on a variety of issues, with his management of the economy coming under particular scrutiny. Felix Kulov said economic performance had deteriorated since Babanov came to power in December 2011. The IMF cut its 2012 GDP growth forecast from 5% to just 1% in July 2012, although the reduction was mainly due to technical issues at the Kumtor gold field, resulting in a dramatic fall in export revenues.

Kulov also criticised Babanov's "populist" trips to South Korea and Moscow, while another senior MP, Tursunbai Bakir uulu, singled out his personnel policy. Kanybek Imanaliyev said the prime minister has "no moral right" to head the government, reported.

The numerous deputies lining up to take pot shots at the PM are clearly hoping to apply enough pressure to push the motion through this time. In June, MPs tried to force Babanov to resign but failed to gather enough signatures in a single petition for a vote of no confidence to go ahead. With the summer recess now drawing to an end, they are again trying to topple the government.

Once again, the attempt to bring down the administration is most likely be backed by Ata-Zhurt, the only one of the five parties in the parliament excluded from the current coalition. However, it is not yet clear whether enough signatures can be gathered from among members of the four parties within the coalition.

Kyrgyzstan's two governments since the April 2010 revolution have both taken six weeks or so of intense negotiation to form, as no less than three of the five parliamentary parties are needed. While Babanov's administration has concerned investors with its increasingly resource nationalist policies, and the economy slowed dramatically in the first half of 2012, a collapse of the government would lead to many weeks of elevated uncertainty and a halt to policy making.

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