President Barack Obama recently met with Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbayeva in New York. The 2 leaders discussed the efforts that Kyrgyzstan has made to rebuild its democratic institutions over the last several months. Under President Otunbayeva's leadership the Kyrgyz government removed restrictions on independent media, drafted a new constitution, which was ratified by a referendum in June, and will hold parliamentary elections on October 10th.
President Obama also noted the Kygyrz government's actions to end the tragic violence that exploded in the southern Kyrgyzstan in June. A populist uprising last April overthrew President Kurmanbek Bakiyev and brought a provisional government headed by Roza Otunbayeva to power. Clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in southern Kyrgyzstan from June 10th to 14th killed hundreds of people and displaced around 400,000, with approximately 100,000 fleeing temporarily to neighboring Uzbekistan.
President Obama urged President Otunbayeva to take further steps to prevent renewed violence, including approving the deployment of a Police Advisory Group –- a 52-member team assembled and supported by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. In addition, he urged the Kyrgyz government to create a credible international commission to investigate the causes of the tragic loss of life and property, which occurred last June. A thorough and transparent investigation will provide accountability and is crucial to the reconciliation process in the aftermath of the violence.
The United States is focused on helping the government of Kyrgyzstan to prepare for upcoming elections. "We see these as a very significant opportunity to establish the very first parliamentary democracy in Central Asia," said U.S. Assistant Secretary of South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake. Twenty-nine parties are contesting 120 seats in the new Kyrgyz parliament. The United States has allocated $5 million dollars to help Kyrgyzstan organize what will hopefully be free and fair elections held in a peaceful manner that will allow for wide participation by all the Kyrgyz people.
The United States and the international community want to work with the government and with the people of Kyrgyzstan to provide assistance to all those who were affected by the recent violence, to hold free and fair elections, and ultimately to lay the foundation for enduring peace and stability.