Friday, March 25, 2005

Success in Kyrgyzstan

I went to sleep last night seeing reports that protests in the capital of Kyrgyzstan had "turned violent". I woke up this morning to find that another democratic revolution had been successful. After weeks of protests at fixed elections, the people Kyrgyzstan had seized control of state-run media and stormed the presidential palace. The Supreme Court has annulled the fixed poll, and the old Parliament has named an interim President and Prime Minister pending proper elections. Former President Askar Akayev is reported to have fled the country. While there has been some looting, and clashes with riot police around the seat of government, generally things have been fairly bloodless. In other words, another victory of democracy over autocratic rule.

The message to autocratic governments is clear: people will not tolerate sham elections. If you're going to play at democracy to claim legitimacy and satisfy the international community, you'd better do it properly. The governments of those other Central Asian autocracies, Uzbekistan and Tajikstan, and their autocratic patron, Russia, ought to be worried...