Kyrgyzstan, April 2010. After the widespread rioting in the capital Bishkek and the ousting of president Bakiev, the situation in this Central Asian nation deteriorated with violent clashes between the two main ethnic groups, Kygyz and Uzbek.
A government was proclaimed with Roza Otunbayeva as interim president. After a referendum on a new constitution late June, she was sworn in July 3 promising rapid elections.
People call her the “Central Asian Iron Lady” as a reference to her determination to establish a parliamentary democracy in Kyrgyzstan.
Constantino De Miguel: “Mme President, can you describe the tragic events your country suffered? How many deaths, how many wounded, how many displaced?”
Roza Otunbayeva: “So around 270 deaths have been registered in our medical service, but it doesn’t mean this is the real number, because by tradition dead people should be buried the same day, so the real number is higher several times.
We realise that there is a third party which is interested very much in creating such violence. We must identify them, but we know that some of them a religious extremists. We do know that those people dream of shaking up the country, using this violence to build up a religious caliphate. Unfortunately in all these attempts the family of the previous president was very much involved. We are finding out about this issue which is very serious for this country.”
Constantino De Miguel: “How is your country tackling the humanitarian crisis in Osh? How are you assisting those people who fled ethnic violence?”
Roza Otunbayeva: “About 110.000 people fled to Uzbekistan. The majority of them were women, elderly and children. They are back now, all of them, so practically they are in Kyrgystan now. Of course they came back to their places where there is no housing, no business, they lost their relatives. Now a lot of international organizations came to help us in these “needy” times.”
Constantino De Miguel: “What kind of support you need from the international community to consolidate your democratic regime?”
Roza Otunbayeva: “We need assistance to consolidate the power, to consolidate the democracy in my country. First of all, what is my main great concern right now is in the height of the summer is to provide roof for those people who are today victims of this conflict. We need housing, so we need construction materials to build houses. We have the nation waiting to reconstruct itself.”
Constantino De Miguel: “How about the police forces and the army, can you count on them?”
Roza Otunbayeva: “And we are now looking on a project to build up a police contingent, a peace keeping contingent to separate both forces (Uzbek and Kyrgyz). We have about 13,000 police forces and we need badly train them, equip them.”
Constantino De Miguel: “But people in your country are disappointed with democracy, after the rigged elections and the anarchy that followed, so how can you really gain their confidence?”
Roza Otunbayeva: “Listen, we had a referendum, which was a great joy for us and a big surprise for many countries. The results were just tremendous. Out of 70% who came to vote, we got 90% of people who voted for the new constitution and for me as interim president. Because I agreed (decided) that the contribution to the stability of my country is to become president. Meanwhile in one and a half year time we will hold presidential elections, so we should go step by step to the stabilization and I think people want stability, they want the unity of the country and they want peace in the country.”