Not wanting to left out of the mad rush of Cabinet reshuffles sweeping across Central Asia (see here and here), Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev has dismissed a gaggle of ministers, governors, mayors, administration officials, and even several ambassadors.

The most high-profile casualties are Agriculture Minister Arstanbek Nogoyev, Education Minister Ishenkul Boldzhurova, head of the presidential administration Murat Ismailov, and First Deputy Prime Minister Iskenderbek Aidaraliyev. Among the many others to get their marching orders are the mayor of Osh, the governor of Chui region, and the ambassadors in China and Istanbul.

It is not clear where all these people will be marching to precisely, due to the vague wording of the presidential edict, which states that they are leaving their posts “to take up another job.”

Bakiyev show ministers the door

Bakiyev shows ministers the door

Being Kyrgyzstan _ where the pundit train works all hours _ the response has been quick.

Ata Meken opposition party leader Omurbek Tekebayev says the officials in question were dismissed for adopting a “neutral policy,” which is to say that they did not devote themselves to protecting the interests of the rivaling clans under Bakiyev’s tent: 

Dismissal is the penalty for showing disloyalty to the authorities.

As he notes, not unfairly, while the general population expected some changes at the ministries responsible for mishandling the disastrous energy crisis, those people have remained in place without even being subjected to an official rebuke.

Political analyst Nur Omarov takes a roughly similar line, arguing that the cadre rotation is unlikely to have any positive effect on the management of government, though he is more benevolent about the general standard of the current team:

In my opinion, it would be much more logical,  considering the difficult current socio-economic situation, not to change personnel, as the time is not the most appropriate.

Instead, he argues that the reshuffle should have been preceded by a radical overhaul of the structure of government, including a streamlining of ministries and state agencies. The changes effected on Friday are purely cosmetic, he says.

Another independent political observer, Mars Sariyev, suggest that Bakiyev has simply created a minor government crisis now, so as to avoid a larger one down the road. He also argues that changes could be positive if the government attracts talent from the opposition _ a little bit of wishful thinking perhaps.

The general consensus among government critics seems to be, however, that the reshuffle is a strategic repositioning ahead of early presidential elections, possibly to be held next year.

The whole thing is frankly bewildering and a worrying indication of the Kyrgyz political system’s proneness to spiraling into complete chaos. For the disinterested onlooker, it is extremely hard to fathom the alleged maelstrom of family intrigue that dominates the national political scene, but it is more than apparent that continuity is probably not likely as things stand.

On these matters, it is usually best to defer to knowledge of Erica Marat at Jamestown, who is rich mine of information, if prone to favouring a conspiracy theory over a sanguine political analysis. In Marat’s defense though, conspiracy theories are usually true in Kyrgyzstan, of course.

In the meantime, we wait and see.

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