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July 24, 2009 / jeni

Can Anything Be Done When Fraud Is Predictable?

The results are in from the presidential election in Kyrgyzstan: incumbent Kurmanbek Bakiyev has been reelected with an estimated 89 percent of the vote. Wow. 89 percent! That’s some old-school Soviet result.

The OSCE has called the election a ‘disappointment‘.

The OSCE concluded that “the incumbent gained an unfair advantage over his opponents through the misuse of administrative resources and bias in the media coverage of the campaign.” The assessment cited irregularities that included “ballot-box stuffing, inaccuracies in the voter lists, and multiple voting.”

There’s more coverage at RFE/RL. Tolkun Umaraliev has some firsthand coverage and videos at his blog.

Why does this matter? We’ve posted some things previously on Kyrgyz corruption and organised crime. There are also increasing concerns about militants fleeing Afghanistan and Pakistan and settling in southern Kyrgyzstan. With the eventual extension of the Manas base deal, Kyrgyzstan continues to play an important role in supporting US/NATO efforts in Afghanistan. In short, it does matter if an authoritarian and highly corrupt regime with links to organised crime presides over a strategically important state with increasing domestic sociopolitical tensions (and an exponential growth in movements like Hizb-ut-Tahrir).

There was little hope that the Kyrgyz election would be a fair one, and also little chance of outside influence improving the situation. Here we see a sort of competition of strategic realities: on the one hand, it’s clear that corrupt and criminal regimes facilitate instability and militancy; on the other hand, sometimes larger strategic aims seem more achievable with the status quo, however unpalatable it may be. It would be nice to see the US and European states put some serious pressure on the Bakiyev regime, but it’s just not going to happen. In this sense it is not only the fraud that is predictable, but the getting away with it.

Can anything be done?

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