State and politics
Kyrgyzstan declared its independence in August 1991. The
Constitution of May 1993 strengthened the president's
position. After being revised a few times, the country got
its current constitution after a referendum on June 27,
2010. The 2010 constitution limits the president's power and
before parliamentary rule.
In 2017, a number of amendments were introduced to the
constitution. The amendments, which were supported by a
controversial referendum on December 11, 2016, strengthen
the Prime Minister's position, limit the judiciary and give
increased powers to the security agencies.
Parliament, Jogorku Kenesh, has a chamber of 120
seats which is added for five years at a time. No party can
have more than 65 seats. The President, whose power has been
reduced, is elected for six years and cannot stand for
another term. The head of state, however, still has the
right to veto and appoint senior executives.
As in many other former Soviet republics, economic
interest groups, some 15 so-called clans, have a great
influence in politics. In addition, unlike other Central
Asian states, Kyrgyzstan has maintained the tradition of
tribes, so-called tapes, and politicians have their basis in
regional tapes rather than in political parties. There is a
tension between clans in the north and the Fergana Valley in
southern Kyrgyzstan. See
AbbreviationFinder for how KG can stand for Kyrgyzstan.
The widespread corruption in Kyrgyzstan prevents the
establishment of well-functioning state structures,
counteracts equitable distribution of society's resources
and slows down the country's democratization.
Prior to the 2005 parliamentary elections, Akajev banned
the use of public premises for election meetings. This was
followed by demonstrations in especially southern Kyrgyzstan
and by extensive looting also in Bishkek. Due to the
passivity of the police, Akajev felt compelled to flee. On
April 4 of the same year, he signed a formal document on his
departure at the Kyrgyzstan Embassy in Moscow.
Kurmanbek Bakijev, who was forced to resign from the post
of Prime Minister after the 2002 Aksy massacre, was
appointed Kurmanbek Bakijev. In April 2010, Bakiyev fled
from Bishkek under similar circumstances and took refuge in
Belarus. A self-proclaimed provisional government made up of
well-known opposition politicians, together with
international expertise, drafted a new constitution which
was adopted by a referendum in June of the same year. The
new constitution limited the president's power and
introduced parliamentary rule.
People from Bakijev's immediate and criminal circles were
identified as responsible for the provocations that led to
pogroms on both the Uzbek and Kyrgyz in the southern cities
of Osh and Dzjalal-Abad in the weeks before the referendum.
According to official data, at least 300 people were killed.
Since 2010, the country has been ruled by coalition
governments, which have been predominantly led by the Kyrgyz
Socialist Party. The party became second largest in the
parliamentary elections on October 10, 2010. In the October
4, 2015 election, the Social Democratic Party became the
largest party (27.5 percent).
In the October 30, 2011 presidential election, Prime
Minister Almazbek Atambayev (born 1956), nominated by the
Socialist Party, received 63 percent of the vote in the
first round. In the subsequent presidential election on
October 15, 2017, Social Democrat Sooronbay Jeenbekov
received 55 percent of the vote, which was enough to
preclude a second round of elections.
On December 11, 2016, a referendum was held that
supported changes in the constitution in favor of the Prime
Minister. In April 2018, Prime Minister Sapar Isakov (born
1977) lost a parliamentary vote in Parliament and was forced
to resign. Muchammedkalyj Abylgaziev was appointed new Prime
All parliamentary and presidential elections since 2010
have been generally considered free by international
election observers, although significant irregularities have
also been pointed out. At the 2017 presidential election,
Sooronbaj Jeenbekov received support from incumbent
President Atambayev, creating suspicion of abuse of
so-called administrative resources.
During his time as President, Almazbek Atambayev
succeeded in dampening the Uzbek-war conflict potential and
balancing the conflicts between the South and the North,
which contributed to the departure of the predecessors
Kurmanbek Bakijev and Askar Akajev in 2010 and 2005
In addition to these still unsolved problems, Sooronbaj
Jeenbekov, who was prime minister under Atambayev and
politically close to him, has faced a number of other major
challenges in succession: including widespread corruption, a
generally weakened economy, growing poverty and organized
The country has been a member of the Commonwealth of
Independent States (CIS) since December 1991, including the
Collective Security Agreement (May 1992) and since 2000 the
Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEc) customs cooperation.
In 2014, Kyrgyzstan joined the Russian-led Euro-Asian Union
(EEU). Kyrgyzstan has been a member of NATO's Partnership
for Peace since 1994 and joined the WTO in 1999. Kyrgyzstan
also belongs to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)
regional cooperation organization since 1996.
Despite independence, Kyrgyzstan continues to use the
laws of the Soviet era in the absence of other alternatives.
Legal reforms in the market economy direction are partly
being implemented. The death penalty was abolished in 2007
for serious crimes committed during peacetime but can still
be sentenced under war or warlike conditions. The most
recent execution took place in 1998.
Compared to the other countries in Central Asia, civil
society in Kyrgyzstan is relatively strong. Several local
human rights organizations are active and are largely
allowed to carry out their work of monitoring and reporting
without government involvement. The government has great
influence over the media, but the country has the strongest
freedom of the press among the Central Asian countries.
According to Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index,
Kyrgyzstan has since climbed from position 159 to place 88
Shortcomings in respect of human rights exist and torture
is a common occurrence, which violates civil and political
rights despite the fact that the authorities have adopted
new legislation to prevent this. Violence and discrimination
against homosexuals, bisexuals and transgender people occurs
and perpetrators are rarely prosecuted.
The situation of women in Kyrgyzstan is difficult in many
ways. Domestic abuse is a growing problem, even though the
law prohibits domestic abuse. In addition, women's
representation in work life and management is low compared
to men's. The Constitution prohibits discrimination on
grounds of sex, but the government has not taken adequate
measures to prevent such discrimination from taking place.
Bridal purchases and grooms are still in the countryside.
Also trafficking in women is a serious and growing problem
as Kyrgyzstan acts as a country of origin and transit for
human trafficking in particular, and there is no law that
explicitly prohibits business.
The government has adopted special programs to improve
children's conditions and to disseminate information about
their rights, but resources are insufficient and the UN
Children's Fund UNICEF estimates that there are thousands of
street children in the capital Bishkek alone
Arbitrary detention occurs regularly in Kyrgyzstan as a
way for the police to bribe themselves. According to the
law, a decision by a prosecutor is required before arrest
can be made, but it is not always followed. Police and
security agencies have also increased their surveillance of
the Uzbek minority in Kyrgyzstan's part of the Ferghana
Valley, which has been motivated by being part of the fight
Religious freedom is provided for in the Constitution and
is generally respected, but all religious groups must be
registered and some Christian communities have encountered
problems in this procedure. However, this does not apply to
established Christian communities such as the Orthodox or
the Catholic Church.
Kyrgyzstan has joined all eight of the International
Labor Organization's (ILO) central conventions on freedom of
association and negotiation, non-discrimination in working
life, the ban on forced labor and the ban on child labor.