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Acting Kyrgyz President Japarov Announces Move To Become Eligible For New Vote

Sadyr Japarov

BISHKEK -- Acting Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov says he will step down before the end of the year to become eligible to run in a presidential election in January 2021.

The move, which Japarov announced during a meeting with people in the central Naryn region on October 25, allows him to skirt a law that prohibits acting presidents from seeking the presidential office.

"A presidential election will take place on January 10. I will step down in early December and take part in the poll. I will participate in the race as an ordinary citizen. If I win, then I will be president, if not I will remain an ordinary citizen," Japarov said.

The Kyrgyz parliament named Japarov, 51, prime minister earlier this month after mass protests against the official results of October 4 parliamentary elections ousted the government and led to the resignation of President Sooronbai Jeenbekov, the third popular revolt to topple a leader in the Central Asian nation since 2005.

After Jeenbekov's resignation in mid-October, the parliament handed presidential powers to Japarov, who was released in the wake of the protests from a Bishkek prison, where he served a lengthy term on kidnapping charges.

On October 24, the Central Election Commission (BShK) set January 10, 2021, as the date of the early presidential election.

Japarov has already signed changes to the elections law that delayed parliamentary and presidential votes, after parliament approved the measures to pave the way for further legal changes that would allow him to run for the presidency. By stepping down in December, such changes wouldn't be necessary for him to run.

Many politicians and some legal experts say changing Kyrgyzstan’s constitution could require a national referendum.