Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic – IRI’s election observation delegation has determined that the July 10 presidential election demonstrated measurable progress in Kyrgyzstan’s democratic development. Improvements in election administration contributed to increases in transparency and fairness. In addition, unprecedented voter education efforts and widespread distribution of candidate information resulted in vast increases in the amount of information available to voters on candidates, issues and electoral procedures. Some administrative issues, particularly the voter lists, must be addressed by the government. In addition, the use of administrative resources to increase voter turnout must also be addressed. However, the elections were a significant improvement over the parliamentary elections of February and March 2005, and provide an important example in democratic development for other countries in the region.
IRI fielded a 25-member delegation representing a number of political parties in the United States, Europe and Asia and composed of election experts who have observed multiple elections in numerous countries around the world, including: Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Romania, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Albania, Thailand, Croatia, Uzbekistan, Moldova and Kyrgyzstan. The delegation co-chairmen are The Honorable Michael Trend, former member of parliament of the United Kingdom and vice chairman of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, and The Honorable Surin Pitsuwan, member of Thailand’s parliament. IRI deployed observers to each of Kyrgyzstan’s seven oblasts monitoring more than 100 polls in Batken, Bishkek, Chui, Issyk Kul, Jalal Abad, Naryn, Osh and Talas.
Several positive trends the delegation highlighted in the conduct of elections in Kyrgyzstan are:
- Rights of election observers were generally acknowledged and respected;
- The election was held in a peaceful and calm atmosphere;
- Government interference in media coverage of the campaign was reduced;
- Freedom of assembly by candidates and campaigns was respected by the interim government; and
Nearly two million copies of candidate information materials were distributed, and nationally televised candidate debates were held for the first time since independence.
- Voters lists continue to contain considerable inaccuracies that provide the opportunity for manipulation;
- IRI observers noted attempts to inflate turnout via manipulation of mobile voting and altering election results during tabulation;
- The election law is unclear with regard to the legality of transporting voters to polling stations;
- Reports of isolated vote buying continue to be problematic in some regions of the country; and
The Supreme Court was unable to hear cases for much of the pre-election campaign period because of its occupation by demonstrators, and the lower courts continue to be plagued by a lack of professionalism. As a result, the courts in general were not in a position to provide legal recourse in upholding voter and candidate rights.
In summary, an election is evaluated both on Election Day, as well as throughout the actual campaign period. In both cases, IRI has found that the Kyrgyz Republic has improved its ability to conduct transparent national elections, and has taken measurable steps forward in its quest for democratization. However, the newly-elected government must commit itself to continued improvement in the areas set forth in this document if it hopes to fulfill the Kyrgyz people’s aspirations for even higher standards of democracy, as well as to fully meet international standards for electoral processes. IRI will issue a full report on the findings of the delegation.
IRI opened its Bishkek office in 2003, although it had previously conducted programming in the Kyrgyz Republic from 1991 to 1994. IRI provided extensive training to campaign staffs and parties on techniques for conducting nationwide door-to-door campaigns. In addition to providing training and technical assistance, IRI’s office in Bishkek monitored preparations for the administration of elections, as well as the conduct of the campaigns by the various candidates.Top