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Atambaev At Risk As Kyrgyz Law Allowing Prosecution Of Ex-Presidents Comes Into Force

Former Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev (file photo)
Former Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev (file photo)

BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz legislation under which former heads of state can be prosecuted came into force two days after ex-President Almazbek Atambaev stepped down from the leadership of opposition Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan (SDPK).

The law that came into force on May 27 was ratified by President Sooronbai Jeenbekov in mid-May amid calls by some politicians for an investigation into decisions made by Atambaev, his predecessor, when he was in office.

The new law preserves immunity from prosecution for former presidents, but also states that prosecution is possible if they lose their formal status as an ex-president.

Parliament can strip former presidents of that status if they are suspected of "especially serious crimes" by the Prosecutor-General's Office, according to the text, which was given final approval by lawmakers in April.

It is not clear what the law defines as an "especially serious crime."

On May 25, Atambaev announced at the SDPK session that he was resigning from the party's leadership, after which his deputy Asel Koduranova was elected the party's new chairwoman.

The Social Democrats have been in crisis for a year after party members launched an "SDPK Without Atambaev" campaign in the wake of a rift between Atambaev and Jeenbekov, who was elected in October 2017 as the SDPK candidate.

Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov (file photo)
Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov (file photo)

According to law, Jeenbekov suspended his membership in the SDPK after he was sworn in as president.

In March, Atambaev issued a public apology for helping to bring Jeenbekov to power, likening his one-time ally to an autocrat.

SDPK representative Kunduz Joldubaeva told reporters on May 27 that Atambaev would remain in politics.

Limited to a single six-year term by the constitution, Atambaev tapped Jeenbekov, his former prime minister, as his favored successor in the October 2017 presidential election.

But the two have had a public falling out and have criticized each other for more than a year.

Several associates of Atambaev have been arrested on corruption charges.