Kyrgyzstan holds a vote in the hopes of avoiding the chaos of the past.
On Sunday, Kyrgyzstan will hold parliamentary elections, with the main question being whether the Central Asian country can escape yet another round of post-election unrest.
Since attaining independence in 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed, the tiny, mountainous nation of 6.5 million people has seen recurring political turmoil.
Although Kyrgyzstan’s elections are more competitive than those of its authoritarian neighbors, protests have forced three Kyrgyz leaders from power in the last three decades.
After losing parliamentary elections a year ago, losing parties marched to the streets to criticize a vote they claimed was rigged in favor of parties connected to then-president Sooronbay Jeenbekov.
Hundreds were injured in running skirmishes with police who used tear gas and water cannon to take control of government facilities.
The election results were overturned, and current leader Sadyr Japarov was elected president in January after being released from prison during the upheaval.
On Sunday, 21 parties and hundreds of district candidates will compete for 90 seats in the single-chamber legislature.
Japarov does not appear to have a horse in the race, although few candidates are perceived to be anti-government.
The major hope of many Kyrgyz is for the election to go off without a hitch.
“Perhaps some people want (a revolution), but I believe most people are tired of revolutions,” Chynara Suleimanova, 60, told AFP in Bishkek.
Previous elections have been marred by extensive suspicions of vote-buying, but Japarov has promised that this election will be free of such charges.
Daniel Zamirbekov, an 18-year-old student who said he would vote for a reform-minded party considered a long shot for parliament, was skeptical.
“(Voters) will be bussed in, and a woman (outside the polling station) will mark them off her list,” he explained.
Japarov, a populist, has now solidified his position, approving constitutional revisions that removed single-term limits for existing presidents and strengthened his office at the expense of the legislature.
Some independent candidates are already facing opposition.
After security services initiated an inquiry into the exploitation of children during his campaign in a Bishkek district, Dastan Bekeshev, a visually handicapped independent lawmaker, was punished by the electoral commission.
Even though the president appeared to criticize him at a meeting last month, Bekeshev told AFP he contests the accusation and does not consider Japarov an opponent.
Services for security “Rather than battling terrorism, they are investigating my campaign. Why am I here? Because I am a free thinker, “In an interview during his campaign, Bekeshev noted. The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.