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Kyrgyz Lawmakers Approve Bill To Strip Ex-Presidents' Immunity

Kyrgyz ex-President Almazbek Atambaev (file photo)
Kyrgyz ex-President Almazbek Atambaev (file photo)

BISHKEK -- The Kyrgyz parliament has approved in first reading a bill that would eliminate immunity for ex-presidents, potentially opening the path for the prosecution of the country’s former leader Almazbek Atambaev.

100 lawmakers in the 120-seat chamber voted for the bill on December 13. Two voted against it. 18 lawmakers were not present.

The parliamentary committee for legislation, state structures, and judicial issues, approved the bill in late November.

The bill needs to be approved in two more readings by the lawmakers before President Sooronbai Jeenbekov can sign it into the law.

The vote comes amid persistent tension between Jeenbekov and his predecessor Atambaev -- two politicians who used to be known as close allies.

In October, Kyrgyzstan's Supreme Court ruled that the immunity enjoyed by the country's former presidents is unconstitutional.

In recent months, some politicians and lawmakers have called for the investigation of some of Atambaev's decisions while in office.

Several of his close allies have been arrested on suspicion of corruption.

Atambaev helped steer Jeenbekov, who had been his prime minister, into the presidency in an October 2017 election.

But the two have exchanged public accusations of unprofessionalism in recent months.