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Kyrgyz Commission Brings NIne Charges Against Ex-President Atambaev

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Ex-President Almazbek Atambaev's feud with his hand-picked successor has dominated Kyrgyz politics.

BISHKEK -- A Kyrgyz parliamentary commission has indicted former President Almazbek Atambaev on nine counts of corruption in a move toward stripping him of his immunity to allow for his prosecution.

Within hours of starting its first session, the commission of 12 parliamentarians on June 17 brought the nine accusations forward in a meeting open to the public.

The commission was created after a group of 60 lawmakers signed a petition accusing Atambaev of a number of alleged corruption crimes, including usurping power, while in office.

According to a law that took force in late May, former presidents can lose their immunity and be prosecuted if they are stripped of their formal status as ex-president.

For this to happen, parliament first must file charges with the Prosecutor-General's Office against an ex-president. If the country's top lawyer finds grounds for such charges, parliament can strip former presidents of their status.

The law that came into force on May 27 was ratified by President Sooronbai Jeenbekov amid calls by some politicians for an investigation into decisions made by his predecessor, who was president from December 2011 to November 2017.

Limited by the constitution to a single six-year term, Atambaev supported Jeenbekov's candidacy for president, even suggesting several times during the presidential campaign that Jeenbekov would continue his policies if elected.

Such talk led to speculation that Atambaev planned to continue governing the country through his successor.

But after Jeenbekov took the oath of office in November 2017, he gradually dismissed most of the key holdovers from Atambaev's government.

Two Atambaev allies who also served as prime minister when he was president, Sapar Isakov and Jantoro Satybaldiev, were arrested in June 2018 on corruption charges.

Adamkul Junusov, a former customs chief who worked under Atambaev from 2011 to 2017, was also arrested in December 2018 and charged with corruption, while former adviser Ikramjan Ilmiyanov was arrested in October on corruption charges.

The feud between Jeenbekov and Atambaev also threatens to cast doubt on the credibility of other politicians.

The persistent allegations of corruption, nepotism, and cronyism have brought into question deals with foreign business partners and investors, as well as the results of the 2017 presidential election.

It also risks creating a toxic political atmosphere ahead of parliamentary elections next year in a country that has already seen political volatility.

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