Kyrgyzstan failure could boost Afghan drug trade, Islamist radicals
The recent wave of ethnic violence is Kyrgyzstan's second violent upheaval in five years. A June 27 referendum could bolster the weak government, but lingering security problems may hamper the vote.
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"There is a threat of extremism in the Fergana Valley and ... in Central Asia as a whole, in the sense that Central Asia borders Afghanistan," United Nations special envoy Miroslav Jenca told Reuters last week.Skip to next paragraph
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Uzbekistan unprepared for influx of refugees
Uzbekistan's authoritarian leader, Islam Karimov, has shown little inclination to intervene to protect the Uzbek minority in southern Kyrgyzstan, but analysts say that could change.
"Uzbekistan was completely unprepared for the influx of refugees from this disaster, bearing horror stories of their ordeal at the hands of Kyrgyz mobs," says Alexei Vlasov, an expert at Moscow State University. "It is now vital to get humanitarian aid in to help these refugees, as part of staving off the threat of destabilization across the Fergana Valley."
'Black hole' could aid drug traffickers
Kyrgyzstan's interim government has accused drug runners of working with agents of former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev to provoke the riots that broke out on June 10.
Mr. Bakiyev, in exile in Belarus, denies that. But experts agree that narco-barons, who mediate the flow of heroin and hashish out of Afghanistan, would be prime beneficiaries of any lasting breakdown of legal order.
"It will soon be time to reap the poppy crops in Afghanistan, and the best gift to the drug traffickers would be a black hole in southern Kyrgyzstan," says Mr. Vlasov.
Key June 27 poll
A key test for the interim government will come June 27, when it stages a referendum on proposed constitutional changes that would weaken the presidency in favor of a stronger parliament. Officials say they will go ahead with the poll to establish the government's credibility.
But they are suggesting the referendum may not take place in the south. Alexander Knyazev, a Bishkek-based analyst, says the government has proposed a controversial decree that would cancel the voting in emergency-rule zones, and later award them average results for the country.
"They have to go ahead with it, because right now the interim government ... has no source of legitimacy at all," he says. "If they can't..., this period of instability will definitely go on."
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