Civic Actions Lead to State Reform in the Kyrgyz Republic

Citizens supported the civic initiative for reform.
In October and November 2012, some 10,000 citizens of different ethnicities and age groups supported the civic initiative for reform in the Kyrgyz Republic.
Civil society makes its mark on Ministry of Internal Affairs
“NGOs must be involved in the reform and continue cooperating with the working group on the final version of the reform concept.”

For more than three years, civil society organizations (CSOs) in the Kyrgyz Republic have been working to bring about critical reforms within the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA). Their persistence paid off when, in early 2013, the ministry began considering a number of key reform measures.

In mid-2011, an opinion poll by the International Republican Institute revealed that 63 percent of respondents perceived the ministry as corrupt, politicized, repressive and ineffective. Shortly after the release of this poll, Interim President Roza Otunbaeva established an interdepartmental committee, including representatives from CSOs, to demonstrate commitment to government reform. The committee was tasked with drafting an MIA reform policy and an implementation plan.

Civil society members felt excluded from these discussions. Not willing to be sidelined, civil society representatives created the Civil Alliance for Reforms and Results to develop an alternative reform concept. Two CSOs led the initiative: Liberal Youth Alliance (LYA) and International Center Interbilim. 

Starting in June 2012, USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives supported the creation of the Civil Alliance, LYA and Interbilim efforts to finalize key components of the alternative reform concept, and the push to collect 10,000 endorsement signatures from citizens throughout the country prior to the official review of reforms in late 2012. Following a series of community meetings and a nationwide broadcast of key public service announcements, the Alliance formally submitted an alternative MIA reform concept, along with the signatures, to the country's president, prime minister and parliament speaker.

On February 13, 2013, Kyrgyz Prime Minister Jantoro Satybaldiev met with representatives of the Alliance and assured them that their recommendations would be considered, while also praising the work they had done so far. On March 18, the Alliance received an official letter from the MIA stating that the ministry had adopted several articles from the alternative reform concept into its own concept.

“NGOs must be involved in the reform and continue cooperating with the working group on the final version of the reform concept,” said Satybaldiev.

Although USAID support ended in April 2013, the Alliance continues its work. Maintaining their commitment to promoting further reforms within the MIA and other ministries, members of the Alliance are now working with British Saferworld on a two-year project that encourages CSOs to participate in ongoing discussions on security policies and police reform in Kyrgyzstan.