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KYRGYZSTAN
Jogorku Kenesh (Supreme Council)
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Parliament name (generic / translated) Jogorku Kenesh / Supreme Council
Structure of parliament Unicameral
BACKGROUND
Dates of election / renewal (from/to) 10 October 2010
Purpose of elections Elections were held for an enlarged 120-member Supreme Council, provided for by the 2010 Constitution.
The 2010 elections were the first to be held since President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was ousted following civil unrest in April 2010. They were held to elect the enlarged 120-member Supreme Council provided for in the 2010 Constitution.

Prior to the previous elections held in December 2007, President Bakiyev had helped establish a new party called Ak Zhol People's Party (Ak Zhol meaning "Bright Path"). It had absorbed the Ata-Jurt party - formed in 2004 by former Foreign Minister Roza Otunbayeva - and some small parties. In the 2007 elections, the Ak Zhol People's Party won 71 of the 90 seats at stake. The Social Democratic Party and the Communist Party took 11 and eight seats respectively. The opposition coalition Ata-Merken (Fatherland), led by Mr. Omurbek Tekebayev - former Speaker and prominent opposition figure - received the second highest percentage of votes nationwide (8.7%) but did not win seats in parliament because it failed to pass the 0.5 per cent threshold in each of the regions as required by the law.

In 2009, this country of 5.3 million inhabitants was hard hit by the global economic crisis. Although Kyrgyzstan exports gold and uranium, the average monthly income remains around US$ 130, and one third of the population lives below the poverty line. Remittances from workers in Russia have fallen sharply amid rising prices. President Bakiyev, who came to power in the 2005 Tulip Revolution that ousted Kyrgyzstan's first post-Soviet president, Askar Akayev, came under heavy criticism for alleged corruption. In July 2009, he was re-elected President after Mr. Almazbek Atambayev - a former prime minister and the leader of the Social Democratic Party - withdrew from the race, alleging widespread fraud. In April 2010, the Constitutional Court agreed to a proposal by President Bakiyev that the acting president should be approved by a State Council, a collective consultative body that included his younger son Maksim.

On 7 April 2010, protests that had started in a provincial town a day earlier spread to the capital, Bishkek, and turned violent. Over 80 people were killed. The following day, the protests forced the President to flee the capital. Ms. Otunbayeva - now a member of the Social Democratic Party - declared herself Chairman of the interim government and demanded that the President resign, but he refused. Later on the same day, Ms. Otunbayeva issued a decree dissolving the Supreme Council and announced that most articles of the Constitution remained in force. Mr. Atambaev's Social Democratic Party, Mr. Tekebayev's Ata-Merken and the Ak-Shumkar (White Falcon) of Mr. Temir Sariyev (another presidential candidate in 2009) subsequently joined the interim government. Mr. Tekebayev became its Deputy Chairman.

On 13 April, the interim government lifted the President's immunity and urged him to surrender. It also suspended the Constitutional Court, accusing it of having adopted decisions "which boosted President Bakiyev's power". Mr. Bakiyev subsequently went into exile in Belarus.

On 19 April, several members of parliament from Mr. Bakiyev's Ak Zhol People's Party and the Communist faction convened an extraordinary session at which the Speaker, Zainidin Kurmanov (Ak Zhol), was not present. He had reportedly refused to convene the session on the grounds that the Supreme Council had been dissolved by the interim government and he was no longer Speaker. The members subsequently voted to dismiss him and elected Mr. Iskhak Masaliyev (Communist) as the new Speaker.

On 22 April, the interim government announced that a constitutional referendum would be held on 27 June, to be followed by parliamentary polls on 10 October. On 3 May, Ms. Otunbayeva signed a resolution setting up a 75-member Constitutional Council headed by the Deputy Chairman, Mr. Tekebayev (Ata-Merken). On 19 May, the Council submitted the final draft Constitution, which was approved by the interim government on 21 May. The draft provided for a transitional period until January 2012 when the new President is expected to be inaugurated. The interim government appointed Ms. Otunbayeva as Transitional President for a period of eighteen months).

The April unrest revived ethnic tensions in the country, which is made up of ethnic Kyrgyz (69.6%), Uzbeks (14.5%) and Russians (8.4%). In mid-May, clashes between Mr. Bakiyev's supporters and backers of the interim government broke out in Jalalabad, Mr. Bakiyev's home town in the south, leaving two people dead and some 60 injured. Uzbeks account for about 40 per cent of the 1 million inhabitants of Jalalabad region and about 50 per cent in the neighbouring region of Osh. On 19 May, the interim government declared a state of emergency in Jalalabad and the adjoining Suzak district until 1 June, and imposed a nightly curfew. However, deadly clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbek continued into June, killing nearly 400 people.

On 27 June, a constitutional referendum was held amid ethnic tension, along with a referendum to approve Ms. Otunbayeva as Transitional President until December 2011. In all, 64.22 per cent of the 2.7 million voters turned out for the constitutional referendum, and the new Constitution was approved by 90.55 per cent.

Under the new Constitution, which provides for a parliamentary system, the president may serve only one six-year term. Ms. Otunbayeva will not be allowed to run for the more powerful post of prime minister. The term of parliament remains unchanged at five years but the statutory number of seats is raised from 90 to 120. No more than 70 per cent of the candidates on any party list can be from one sex (i.e. at least 30 per cent of candidates must be women). No party may hold more than 65 seats in the new legislature.

On 2 July, the election commission validated the referendum results. It adopted the decree issued by the interim government on 8 April dissolving the Supreme Council, thus officially ending the mandate of the outgoing members.

Transitional President Otunbayeva urged all members of her government who wished to participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections first to vacate their government positions so as to build public confidence in the "openness and transparency" of the electoral process. On 12 July, Mr. Tekebayev resigned as Deputy Chairman to run for parliament; he was succeeded by Mr. Azimbek Beknazarov.

On 20 July, Transitional President Otunbayeva issued a decree amending the electoral law, lowering the minimum age for candidates for parliament from 25 to 21. On 10 August, she issued another decree, officially calling elections for 10 October.

In all, 29 parties, including three parties in the transitional government - the Social Democratic Party, Ata-Merken and Mr. Temir Sariev's Ak-Shumkar - contested the 2010 elections. Other major contenders included Ar-Namys, the party of pro-Russia former Prime Minister Felix Kulov, and Ata-Jurt, now led by former Emergencies Minister Kamchybek Tashiyev and encompassing supporters of Mr. Bakiyev. Respublika - a new party formed in June 2010 by former Deputy Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov - and the Butun (United) Kyrgyzstan party of Mr. Adakhan Madumarov were also vying for seats. Respublika did not have a clear pro- or anti-government policy but was expected to be the post-election kingmaker.

Ata-Jurt promised to maintain closer ties with the Russian Federation and shut down the US air base located near the capital, Bishkek. Ata-Jurt and Ar-Namys pledged to amend the Constitution so as to restore the presidential system of government. Ar-Namys leader Kulov also promised to raise the ceiling on seats for the largest parliamentary party from 65 to over 70. He argued that the current provision would lead to political stalemate since the absence of a handful of members could deprive the Supreme Council of the required majority (60 +1).

Ata-Merken leader Tekebayev criticized the move to amend the Constitution on the grounds that 90 per cent of the population had approved the new version in June. Transitional President Otunbayeva criticized her predecessors for what she termed "a family-run government". She urged citizens to turn out massively to establish a parliamentary democracy as provided for in the 2010 Constitution.

In all, 56.59 per cent of 2.8 million registered voters turned out at the polls. Voting took place without major incidents.

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) stated that the elections had provided a "genuine choice" and demonstrated a "further consolidation of the democratic process".

In order to win seats in parliament, a party had to obtain at least 5 per cent of the votes cast nationwide, and at least 0.5 per cent in each of Kyrgyzstan's nine electoral districts. Five parties surpassed both thresholds. Ata-Jurt came in first, winning 8.89 per cent of the votes. As for the parties in the transitional government, the Social Democratic Party came in second with 8.04 per cent and Ata-Merken took 5.6 per cent, while Ak-Shumkar failed to exceed the national threshold. Ar-Namys and Respublika polled 7.74 per cent and 7.24 per cent respectively. In all, 28 women were elected.

On 10 November, the newly elected Supreme Council held its first session.

The following day, Transitional President Otunbayeva tasked the Democratic Party with forming a coalition government. On 29 November, the Social Democratic Party (26 seats), Ata-Merken (18 seats) and Respublika (23 seats) announced that they would try to form a coalition. However, they were reportedly divided over the candidacy for the speakership. On 2 December, their sole candidate - Ata-Meken party leader Omurbek Tekebaev - failed to win election as Speaker with 58 votes for, 59 votes against. On 7 December, Transitional President Otunbayeva invited Respublika party leader Omurbek Babanov to form a government.

On 16 December, Respublika, Ata-Jurt (28 seats) and the Social Democratic Party (26 seats) agreed to form a new government. The following day, the Supreme Council elected Mr. Ahmatbek Keldibekov (Ata-Jurt) as its new Speaker and Mr. Almazbek Atambayev (Social Democratic Party) as the new Prime Minister. On 20 December, Acting President Otunbaeva swore in the new government.
STATISTICS
Voter turnout
Round no 110 October 2010
Number of registered electors
Voters
Blank or invalid ballot papers
Valid votes
2'852'751
1'614'427 (56.59%)

Notes
Distribution of votes
Round no 1
Political Group Candidates Votes %
Ata-Jurt 257'100 8.47
Social Democratic Party 236'634 7.83
Ar-Namys 226'916 7.57
Respublika 210'594 6.93
Ata-Merken 166'714 5.49
Distribution of seats
Round no 1
Political Group Total
Ata-Jurt 28
Social Democratic Party 26
Ar-Namys 25
Respublika 23
Ata-Merken 18
Distribution of seats according to sex
Men
Women
Percent of women
92
28
23.33%
Distribution of seats according to age
Distribution of seats according to profession
Comments
Sources:
- Supreme Council (29.11.2010)
- Kyrgyz Mission to the UN, Geneva (22.11.2010)
- AKIpress news agency
- http://cec.shailoo.gov.kg/

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