Kyrgyzstan Background

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Background: A Central Asian country of incredible natural beauty and proud nomadic traditions, most of the territory of present-day Kyrgyzstan was formally annexed to the Russian Empire in 1876. The Kyrgyz staged a major revolt against the Tsarist Empire in 1916 in which almost one-sixth of the Kyrgyz population was killed. Kyrgyzstan became a Soviet republic in 1936 and achieved independence in 1991 when the USSR dissolved. Nationwide demonstrations in the spring of 2005 resulted in the ouster of President Askar AKAEV, who had run the country since 1990. Former Prime Minister Kurmanbek BAKIEV overwhelmingly won the presidential election in the summer of 2005. Over the next few years, he manipulated the parliament to accrue new powers for the presidency. In July 2009, after months of harassment against his opponents and media critics, BAKIEV won reelection in a presidential campaign that the international community deemed flawed. In April 2010, violent protests in Bishkek led to the collapse of the BAKIEV regime and his eventual flight to Minsk, Belarus. His successor, Roza OTUNBAEVA, served as transitional president until Almazbek ATAMBAEV was inaugurated in December 2011, marking the first peaceful transfer of presidential power in independent Kyrgyzstan's history. Continuing concerns include: the trajectory of democratization, endemic corruption, poor interethnic relations, border security vulnerabilities, and potential terrorist threats.
Under the 2010 Constitution, ATAMBAEV is limited to one term, which will end in 2017. Constitutional amendments passed in a referendum in December 2016 include language that transfers some presidential powers to the prime minister. Disagreement over the constitutional amendments compelled ATAMBAEV’s Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan to dissolve the ruling coalition and create a new majority coalition in the Jogorku Kenesh that excluded opposition parties critical of the amendments.

Definition: This entry usually highlights major historic events and current issues and may include a statement about one or two key future trends.

Source: CIA World Factbook - This page was last updated on July 9, 2017

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