Testimony: Building stability and legitimacy in Kyrgyzstan

Aug. 10, 2010, 10:27 a.m.

Several months ago, Kyrgyzstan, which was a relativity unknown country to many people, jumped onto the front pages of the world's newspapers.  The Central Asian nation experienced its second revolution in the past decade, followed by violent ethnic clashes during a referendum on a new constitution.  In her testimony before the Helsinki Commission, Martha Olcott of the Carnegie Endowment explains what the United States and international community can do to help the transitioning nation.  In particular, she suggests that the OSCE should become heavily involved in monitoring the upcoming October election, noting that holding credible elections is key to establishing the new government's legitimacy.

Have the developments in Kyrgyzstan been the product of a pent-up thirst for democracy on the part of the country’s population and political opposition, or are they a sign of state failure? As my remarks will suggest, the reality is somewhere between the two. The challenge for U.S. policy makers, therefore, is to find ways to encourage democratic development while simultaneously trying to rectify the situations which are leading to state failure and which could further stimulate ethnic unrest.

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