What Was the Tulip Revolution?

Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan.
Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan.


The Tulip Revolution, also known as the First Kyrgyz Revolution, led to the ousting of President Askar Akayev of Kyrgyzstan in early 2005. The revolution started after the parliamentary elections when Askar’s candidates become victorious in an election that was marred by election fraud according to foreign observers such as the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). A massive protest on the behalf of Kyrgyz citizens who were fed up with President Askar Akayev’s corrupt, intolerant, and authoritarian regime started after the election. He ascended into power since 1990 and had exceeded the two terms that are permitted by the constitution of Kyrgyzstan.


Kyrgyzstan undertook parliamentary election on February 27, 2005. The outcome of the election was a victory for President Askar Akayev as his people had won. Criticism followed, and there was unrest in the country. On March 3, 2005, there was a bomb explosion at the apartment belonging to the opposition leader Roza Otunbayeva of which the Akayev and his government denied responsibility. Protests began from the south and were soon reaching the capital, and on March 10, 2005, Kurmanbek Bakiyev who was the leader of the People’s Movement Kyrgyzstan joined the protestors. The demonstrators camped outside the parliament building in Bishkek. On March 19, 2005, three thousand people joined the protests in Bishkek and on March 20, 2005, protestors had occupied all cities in the southern part of Kyrgyzstan. Despite the mass protests, Akayev refused to negotiate with the protestors on March 22, 2005. On March 24, 2005, Akayev together with his family fled to Kazakhstan and later to Russia where he handed his resignation on April 3, 2005.

Outcome of the Revolution

The revolution brought to light the corruption that was taking place during Akayev’s regime. On March 24, 2005, non-governmental organizations together with public servants and bankers sat to make an inquiry into the corruption allegation against Akayev and on April 21, 2005, the commission released a report about the enterprises controlled by Akayev's family.

The Tulip Revolution brought a regime change in Kyrgyzstan. It forced President Askar Akayev to resign, bringing an end to his dictatorial and corrupt government as was stated by OSCE. It led to the formation of an interim government that was supposed to oversee the restoration of peace in the country. On June 10, 2005, the presidential election took place in which Bakiyev and Kulov appointed the prime minister. The elections were lauded by the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) as to have been free and fair and well organized.

Akayev then took legal actions against the anti-corruption commission chair in the Bakiyev’s government arguing that the corruption cases labeled against him were false. Akayev also sued a newspaper journalist for defamation.


Many believe that the Tulip Revolution was a significant turning point for Kyrgyzstan as this led to the end of the corrupt and intolerant reign of President Akayev. It also set an example to other Asian governments who thought that their governments were not ready for democracy. From this revolution, we learn that lack of transparency and fairness in a state causes unrest. Democracy is, therefore, essential for a government's stability.


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