Accessibility links

Breaking News

Kyrgyz Parliament Speaker Steps Down To Join Growing Field Of Presidential Hopefuls

Kanatbek Isaev, chairman of the Kyrgyz parliament

BISHKEK -- The recently elected chairman of the Kyrgyz parliament said on November 4 that he would step down and indicated that he planned to take part in the country's early presidential election in January, throwing more confusion into one of Central Asia's most turbulent political scenes.

Speaker Kanatbek Isaev had been expected to temporarily assume presidential powers in December, when it is believed that current acting President Sadyr Japarov plans to resign to keep himself eligible for the presidential race.

A new presidential election was set for January 10 while the scheduling of a rerun of parliamentary elections remains on hold due to disputes that have emerged since mass protests prompted sudden and sweeping leadership changes in October.

Isaev said he decided to step down after members of one faction in parliament -- the Respublika-Ata-Jurt (Republic-Homeland) grouping -- decided to nominate him for the presidency.

After his statement, lawmakers elected Talant Mamytov to the parliament speaker's post.

Isaev was elected to the post of the parliament speaker on October 13 in the wake of mass protests challenging the official results of October 4 parliamentary elections.

That disquiet ousted the previous parliament speaker, the government, and led to the resignation of President Sooronbai Jeenbekov.

Most observers expected Isaev to take up the presidential powers in line with Kyrgyz law after Jeenbekov resigned in mid-October.

But the 45-year-old Isaev then declined to become head of state and lawmakers handed presidential powers to Japarov.

Japarov, 51, only became prime minister in the midst of the protests, which also prompted election officials to cancel the results of the parliamentary voting.

Japarov had been released from prison, where he was serving sentence for kidnapping a political rival, amid the early street demonstrations.

Japarov has initiated amendments to the constitution to change the rules for elections.

He also signed legal changes that postponed fresh parliamentary elections tentatively set for December 20 to an unspecified date in 2021 despite a requirement that such a vote come within two months.

That move cleared the way for the early presidential election on January 10, 2021.

Under current Kyrgyz law, anyone serving in an acting or interim capacity as president may not then run in an election for the post.

But Japarov has argued that he will become eligible by stepping down in December.

As of November 4, five other politicians had officially informed the Central Election Commission (BShK) of their intentions to run for president.

They are opposition Butun (United) Kyrgyzstan party leader Adakhan Madumarov; the leader of the El Uchun (For the People) party, Arstanbek Abdyldaev; the former leader of the Egemen (Sovereign) Kyrgyzstan party, Bektur Asanov; historian Kuban Choroev; and opposition activist Nazarbek Nyshanov.

Political analyst Bakyt Baketaev told RFE/RL on November 4 that he plans to register with the commission as a potential presidential candidate as well.