Kyrgyzstan Border Map

Yearbook 2003

Kyrgyzstan. In a controversial referendum in February, voters had to decide whether President Askar Akajev would remain until the end of his term of office in 2005. According to official results, 77% answered yes. The opposition had demanded Akajev’s departure after violent political unrest in 2002.

According to Countryaah.com, Kyrgyzstan Independence Day is August 31. The referendum also applied to constitutional amendments, among other things. conversion of Parliament from two chambers to one chamber to which the members are to be elected by majority vote in one-man constituencies. These proposals were also approved. The opposition, which suspected electoral fraud, considered the constitutional changes a setback to democracy. There was also international criticism, including from the US who thought that there was not enough time for debate before the election. Observers at the site felt that many voters voted yes without knowing what the changes meant.

Kyrgyzstan agreed to allow Russia to open a military base on Kyrgyz territory during the year. Russian President Vladimir Putin inaugurated the base in October, which will house a rapid response force to combat terrorist threats in Central Asia. The Russian base is 300 miles from a US military camp set up in connection with the war against Afghanistan.

After the revolution

Immediately after the April Revolution, a temporary government was formed with Roza Otunbajeva as interim leader. Otunbajeva had a background from the UN system and as a parliamentarian and was considered a compromise between political factions in the country. She was inaugurated as the country’s formal president on July 3, 2010.

The clashes in 2010

On June 10, 2010, violent clashes broke out between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in the country’s second largest city, Osh, where around 30 percent of the population is ethnic Ubz (the figure is disputed). The violence also spread to the neighboring town of Jalalabad. During the first three days of clashes, around 420 people were killed and thousands more injured. Whole neighborhoods, and especially areas with Uzbek population, were burned down.

Hundreds of thousands of ethnic Uzbeks fled across Uzbekistan during this period. The background to the conflict was very complex, including the economic differences and distrust of the people groups in between in the unresolved situation just after the April Revolution.

The interim government subsequently invited an independent, international commission to investigate the events. The commission’s report concluded that assaults had occurred on both sides, but held the government partly responsible for not doing enough to protect the civilian population and found that in some cases Kyrgyz government forces had been involved in attacks against Uzbek neighborhoods. A more detailed report on the June events of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the Human Rights Center Memorial was published in 2012.

Kyrgyzstan Border Map