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Roza Otunbayeva was born in Osh on the 23rd August 1950. She studied philosophy at Moscow State University, graduating in 1972, she later became a senior professor and head of the philosophy department at Kyrgyz State National University.
She first delved into the political world with her appointment as second secretary of the Lenin council of the Communist Party in Bishkek in 1981. Between 1986-1989 she became deputy chairwoman of the council of ministries. This was followed by her role as head of the USSR delegation to UNESO in Paris and also the Soviet Ambassador to Malaysia. Due to her success as a diplomat she took on more senior roles such as the Kyrgyz ambassador to the USA, then Canada. Which finally culminated in her becoming Kyrgyz Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1992 and Deputy Prime Minister under President Akayev between 1994-1997. After this she took up more diplomatic roles such as Kyrgyz ambassador the UK and later being appointed the United Nations special deputy to Georgia.
Roza Otunbayeva returned to Kyrgyzstan in 2004 and founded the Ata-Jhurt party along with three other oppositions politicians. She became a prominent leader in the Tulip Uprising and was appointed Foreign Minister in the new government under President Bakiyev in 2005.
When she did not get appointed as foreign minister she became a member of the opposition under the Social Democratic Party. She led the November and 2006 protests that pushed through a new democratic constitution. She also became increasingly critical of Bakiyev arguing that his regime was a continuation of the nepotism and corruption of Akayev. She was elected into parliament in December 2007 and became head of the parliamentary group of the Social Democratic Party from October 2009.
In April 2010 Roza Otunbayeva was selected by the opposition leaders as interim President, in the following referendum in June 2010 she received overwhelming public support. Otunbayeva became the first female Head of State for not just for Kyrgyzstan but the whole of Central Asia. However she was prevented by the constitution from running for a second term in the following presidential elections in 2011. She has since gone onto found the Roza Otunbayeva Initiative in 2012 to advance social, political and economic development in Kyrgyzstan.
Roza Otunbayeva remains a prominent figure in Kyrgyz politics and despite her power base being in the north she is one of a few figures that can generate cross-country support. She is a strong advocate of free speech.
1981 – Appointed as second secretary of the Lenin council of the Communist Party in Bishkek
1986-1989 – Deputy chairwoman of the council of ministries
1989 – Became head of the USSR delegation to UNESO in Paris and the Soviet Ambassador to Malaysia
1992 – Kyrgyz ambassador to the USA and Canada
1994-1997 – Kyrgyz Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister under President Akayev
1997-2002 – Kyrgyz Ambassador to the UK
2002-2004 - UN’s special envoy to Georgia
2004 – Founded the Ata-Zhurt Opposition party
2005 – Nominated for Kyrgyz Minister of Foreign Affairs, but not appointed
2007 – Elected into parliament
2009 – Head of the parliamentary group of the Social Democratic Party
2010-2011 – Elected Interim President
2012 – Founder of the Roza Otunbayeva Initiative