|07BISHKEK196||2007-02-22 09:38:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Bishkek|
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BISHKEK 000196
1. (C) SUMMARY: The Kyrgyz opposition has formed a new
alliance, calling for the removal of President Bakiyev and
for "real" constitutional reform. Led by former Prime
Minister Felix Kulov, the "United Front for Kyrgyzstan's
Decent Future" has attracted many -- but not all --
opposition leaders. Some opposition figures have yet to
accept Kulov as a sincere member of the opposition, and they
also question United Front's tactic of calling for Bakiyev's
ouster. The new alliance has apparently struck a nerve with
the government, prompting a sharp response from the
president's press secretary, who dismissed United Front's
statement as a "manifestation of radicalism." END SUMMARY.
UNITED WE STAND
2. (SBU) Former PM Felix Kulov and several opposition MPs
announced February 19 a new alliance called the "United Front
for Kyrgyzstan's Decent Future." The alliance's stated goals
are to remove Bakiyev from office, initiate early
presidential elections, and push for "real" constitutional
reforms. In its public statement, United Front charged that
President Bakiyev failed to fight corruption and develop
Kyrgyzstan's economy, but instead incited instability by not
preserving the Bakiyev-Kulov "tandem" agreement -- an
agreement not just between Bakiyev and Kulov, but also with
the Kyrgyz people. In addition, United Front accused Bakiyev
of allowing nepotism and corruption to spread, while doing
nothing to encourage constitutional reform. To reverse such
trends, United Front signatories vowed to initiate "real"
constitutional reforms, put limits on presidential powers,
and create a new and improved judiciary. The statement did
not specify how the alliance would achieve its goals. United
Front member and co-Chair of the "For Reforms" opposition
movement, MP Omurbek Tekebayev, said only that United Front,
possibly together with For Reforms, would exert certain
"moral and political pressure" to achieve its aims.
3. (U) The alliance includes the former PM (who was elected
leader of the opposition group); MPs Melis Eshimkanov,
Omurbek Tekebayev, Kubatbek Baibolov; former Minister of
Interior Omurbek Suvanaliyev (who was elected the group's
chief of staff); For Reforms Coordinator Omurbek
Abdarahmanov; Ata Meken political council member Duishen
Chotonov; Ar Namys political council member Emil Aliyev;
Green Party leader Erkin Bulekbayev; and former Kulov
advisor, Valeriy Dil.
DIVIDED WE FALL?
4. (C) Not everyone in the opposition has embraced the new
alliance. Opposition MP Azimbek Beknazarov said that he
would join the group only if Bakiyev resigned voluntarily and
announced early presidential elections on his own. For
Reforms co-Chair Almaz Atambayev told the Charge February 21
that he would not join a group led by Kulov, who not only
betrayed the opposition during the November protests but also
"ruined" the accomplishments of the November rallies by doing
everything in his power to ensure the adoption of the
"authoritarian" December version of the constitution.
Atambayev also rejected United Front's "radical agenda"
calling for Bakiyev's resignation. He said that the
opposition should continue to press for reforms, including
constitutional reform, an end to political harassment, and
changes to government personnel policy. If Bakiyev made
these reforms, Atambayev said, he could remain in power, even
through to 2015.
BISHKEK 00000196 002.2 OF 002
5. (C) Separately, For Reforms member Edil Baisalov told
Poloff that he would prefer to see early parliamentary
elections, rather than a push for the president's removal.
Baisalov said that a new parliament would allow for a more
democratic transition from one government to the next (under
the terms of the new constitution). It would also help to
ensure stability within the country and improve Kyrgyzstan's
image abroad. Baisalov thought, however, that MPs would not
voluntarily dissolve parliament and call for new elections.
That is why, added Baisalov, it was important for
heavyweights like Kulov, Sariyev, and Eshimkanov to put
pressure on parliament from within to stimulate the
possibility of holding parliamentary elections by the end of
6. (C) The president's press secretary delivered a sharp
response to United Front's statement, calling the alliance's
objectives outrageous and unfounded. Additionally, the
government charged that United Front had no moral or legal
right to seek Bakiyev's resignation and call for early
presidential elections. Similarly, pro-government MP Iskhak
Masaliyev told Charge that there was no legal basis to call
for the president's removal, and there was no reason to
initiate impeachment proceedings against the president.
Additionally, Masaliyev said that although criticism of the
president was good, the opposition should not attempt to
destabilize the country by taking to the streets. Masaliyev
was curious whether the Embassy had met with United Front
leaders; he cautioned that the group had radical ambitions.
The MP also forecast that United Front would disband quickly,
due to the presidential ambitions shared by several of the
alliance's leading members.
COMMENT: A DEFINITE CONCERN FOR BAKIYEV
7. (C) United Front's union marks the beginning of what will
undoubtedly be a drawn-out political conflict between
Bakiyev, his supporters in the government, and Kulov. With a
number of prominent opposition members, including Atambayev,
Beknazarov, Sariyev, and Baisalov, still unsure about the
alliance's aims, however, we could also be witnessing further
divisions amongst the already splintered opposition. Despite
those divisions, the government is already revealing its
angst regarding Kulov and the possibility that he will rally
forces against the government, and we will likely see
increased government pressure against Kulov and his new