Months of escalating tensions saw the ousting in early June of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, and culminated a few days later with 5 days of clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks. Several hundred people died, about 300 thousand were internally displaced and another 100 thousand fled to neighboring Uzbekistan.
Kyrgyzstan's interim government nevertheless went ahead with a national vote on a referendum for a new constitution, which would establish a parliamentary government and ban any one party from holding more than 60 percent of the seats.
On June 27, amid relative calm across Kyrgyzstan, some 70 percent of Kyrgyzstan's eligible voters of all ethnicities cast their votes. By this time nearly all the people who fled the country had returned. Reportedly, 90 percent of voters supported the new constitution. Then, on July 3rd, former Foreign Minister Roza Otunbayeva was sworn in as the President of the interim government, which will lead the country into 2011. Legislative elections are provisionally scheduled for October 2010.
Although its people and its government have taken several decisive steps toward democracy, the future is still uncertain in Kyrgyzstan. The government of the Kyrgyz Republic established a commission and invited international participation to inquire into the causes of the June unrest in an effort to establish responsibility and to promote reconciliation.
Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake is optimistic about Kyrgyzstan's chances:
"The United States is very much committed to helping the new government to ensure that they're able to organize elections in accordance with OSCE standards, so that a true democracy really can emerge there."
And the U.S. is prepared to help, says Assistant Secretary Blake. "We are very much interested in trying to advance democracy and human rights in all ...[Central Asian] countries. And ...we think we have a particular opportunity here in Kyrgyzstan. ...We are moving very aggressively to try to work with the government to ensure that it succeeds," said Assistant Secretary of State Blake.