BISHKEK -- The leader of Kyrgyzstan's opposition Butun (United) Kyrgyzstan party, Adakhan Madumarov, has announced his intention to take part in an early presidential election scheduled for January 10.
Madumarov's October 30 announcement came five days after acting President Sadyr Japarov publicly said he will seek the office as well.
The 55-year-old Madumarov is one of the few Kyrgyz politicians who has openly criticized Japarov, questioning his legitimacy.
Japarov, 51, was named prime minister by lawmakers earlier this month after mass protests against official results of the October 4 parliamentary elections ousted the government and led to the resignation of President Sooronbai Jeenbekov, the third popular revolt to topple a leader since 2005 in the Central Asian state, which borders China and houses a Russian military base.
After Jeenbekov's resignation in mid-October, parliament handed the presidential powers to Japarov, who was released in the wake of the protests from a Bishkek prison, where he was serving a lengthy term on kidnapping charges.
Japarov has initiated amendments to the constitution to change the rules for elections. He has also signed legal changes that postponed fresh parliamentary elections set for December 20 to an unspecified date in 2021, as well as making it possible to hold an early presidential election on January 10.
Under current laws, someone serving in an acting or interim capacity as president may not then run in an election for the post. But Japarov said earlier this week that to become eligible to run he will step down in December and take part in the election as an ordinary citizen.
Madumarov and some other politicians, as well as legal experts, have questioned Japarov's moves, saying that any changes to the constitution must be approved in a national referendum first.
Diplomat Askar Beshimov also warned that Japarov-initiated constitutional changes may divide Kyrgyz society once again, sparking another political upheaval in a country where public revolts have pushed out three presidents in less than two decades.
According to Beshimov, Kyrgyzstan must choose between a presidential and parliamentary system of government.
"If we go backward and remain a country with presidential rule while staying away from a real parliamentary system, certain larger powers, our neighbors, will like it. They would say, 'Kyrgyzstan has played enough with this toy called democracy and returned to our club....' At this point they aren't openly expressing their support for the current government because they don't know for sure who is going to win the presidential poll," Beshimov said.