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Friday, April 22, 2005


My Sunny Uzbekistan

From Radio Free Europe:

Nigora Hidoyatova says Uzbekistan has two choices: "revolution or radical liberalization."

"We need to get over this cataclysm and crisis, but our country is so weak at present that revolution will have a rather devastating effect. Therefore, we need to implement reforms and cardinal changes. Otherwise, civil war is likely to start," Hidoyatova says.

Hidoyatova is the leader of the unregistered opposition Ozod Dehqonlar (Free Peasants) party and one of the founders of the new Coalition of Democratic Forces.

Hidoyatova says the coalition -- also called "Serquyosh Uzbekistonim" (My Sunny Uzbekistan) -- is the opposition' s first attempt to unite and put together a common platform.

She tells RFE/RL that the initiative will have a positive effect because it unites fragmented opposition forces.

Outspoken opponents of the current Uzbek regime such as Dadakhon Hasanov, a famous Uzbek poet and singer and Talib Yakubov, a prominent human rights activist, and several entrepreneurs have come out in support of the coalition.

But some oppositionists are not convinced.

Muhammad Salih is a leader of the opposition Erk party living in exile in Europe. He tells RFE/RL that he welcomes any move aimed at uniting Uzbekistan' s democratic forces. However, he is very skeptical about "Serquyosh Uzbekistonim" as he says the coalition is based on individual ambitions.

Nigora Hidoyatova says at the moment the coalition is against a revolution, as seen recently in neighboring Kyrgyzstan.

She says the coalition will try to work with the Uzbek authorities to implement the suggested reforms. She adds that the authorities should also get over their ambitions or prejudices against the opposition and look at the coalition' s proposals.

As of yet, there has been no official reaction to the creation of the coalition or its economic proposals.

Nadira Hidoyatova says the Uzbek government has no other options. It must open a dialogue with the coalition:

"I want to have a discussion [with Uzbek authorities] about working conditions, or the state policy on small- and medium-size businesses. I want an open dialogue on what the problem is about and why businesspeople leave Uzbekistan. If they don' t want to discuss it, they will face horrible consequences tomorrow. Today' s situation has led to the total impoverishment and unemployment of [our] people. These are the explosive ingredients of revolution. People' s deepening despair will inevitably lead to a social explosion. Dialogue could ease social tension," Hidoyatova says.

Whether or not the Uzbek authorities recognize the coalition might be the least of "My Sunny Uzbekistan's" worries.

The bigger problem the coalition faces is the fragmented opposition.

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