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Kyrgyzstan's Ruling Party Names Its Choice For Prime Minister

(RFE/RL) Kyrgyzstan's new parliament met today and the Ak Jol (Best Path) Party, which won the majority of seats in the December 16 elections, named their nominees for prime minister and speakers of parliament.

Meanwhile, a planned protest against the results of those elections did not take place today, but opposition groups made clear they remain highly unsatisfied with the conduct and outcome of the poll and will not keep silent or accept the results.

Ak Jol is the party President Kurmanbek Bakiev created in October, a week before the national referendum on a new constitution.

The choice for prime minister was 46-year-old former Minister of Industry, Energy, and Fuel Igor Chudinov. Chudinov, an ethnic Russian, was a leading member of the Communist Party youth group -- Komsomol – during the Soviet era and since independence has worked almost exclusively in Kyrgyzstan's energy sector, including work as director general of Kyrgyzgaz, the state company in charge of procuring gas shipments for the country. Chudinov is the fourth prime minister Kyrgyzstan has had this year.

Ak Jol also nominated its candidates for speaker and deputy speakers of parliament. Former State Secretary Adakhan Madumarov was appointed speaker after a vote of 79 to eight (of 90 deputies) in his favor (three votes were declared void).

Ruling Party For The First Time

He said Ak Jol's resounding victory was nothing to be concerned about, saying "Ak Jol Party will be responsible for the activities of the [Kyrgyz] government and the parliament." Madumarov said the nation's people trusted the party and this was evident since "even before today, the people placed these responsibilities on the party by voting for them."

Madumarov used examples from other CIS countries to argue there was no reason to be alarmed that Kyrgyzstan, for the first time in its history as an independent country, has a ruling party. He pointed to neighboring Kazakhstan where "a single party is working there. Did any tragedy happen, or was there any earthquake after that?"

And Madumarov, alluding to the fact that the pro-presidential Communist Party and opposition Social-Democratic Party also won seats in Kyrgyzstan's parliament, mentioned Russia where "four parties are working [in the parliament], two of them -- Unified Russia and A Just Russia -- are sister parties."

The three deputy speakers are Cholpon Baekova, Azizbek Tursunbaev, and Kubanychbek Isabekov. Some 20 deputies voted against the candidacy of Baekova. She was the chairwoman of the Constitutional Court when the court ruled former President Askar Akaev could run for a third term in office and was still chairwoman in September when the court ruled constitutions approved in November and December 2006 were invalid, which prompted the October referendum.

A statement from President Bakiev was read in parliament saying the election of a new parliament should put an end to the problems Kyrgyzstan has experienced since the so-called "Tulip Revolution" of March 2005 that chased long-time President Akaev from power. Bakiev held a session of the government today and said in 2008 the government should focus on "resolving economic questions."

Still An Opposition Voice In Parliament

But the Social-Democratic Party, the only opposition party to win seats in parliament, indicated it would not sit and be quiet while Ak Jol governs the country. Social-Democratic Party member and deputy in the new parliament Bakyt Beshimov said, "Ak Jol has loaded itself up with all the opportunities, but we will see how they resolve the tasks before us." Beshimov predicted that "after three or four months they will feel and understand that without the Social-Democratic Party some problems cannot be resolved," and he added "only then will a different style of politics be possible."

Some other opposition groups are still adamant that the December 16 parliament elections were rigged and therefore should be declared invalid.

A Bishkek Court late on December 23 rejected a motion from the Ata-Meken Socialist Party to have those elections declared invalid. Ata-Meken placed second in the nationwide vote but due to a rule requiring parties receive at least 0.5 percent of the votes in each of Kyrgyzstan's seven provinces and two largest cities -- Bishkek and Osh -- Ata-Meken was disqualified from getting any seats in the new parliament. Ata-Meken says it did receive the necessary amount of votes in all regions and is vowing to appeal decision to the Supreme Court.

Ata-Meken and other opposition groups promise to organize nationwide protests against the election results but postponed demonstrations that were planned for today.

(RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service contributed to this report)

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