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Kyrgyz President's Brother Quits Atambaev's Party Amid Split

Kyrgyz deputy Asylbek Jeenbekov
Kyrgyz deputy Asylbek Jeenbekov

BISHKEK -- Asylbek Jeenbekov, a Kyrgyz lawmaker and brother of President Sooronbai Jeenbekov, has quit the Social Democratic Party (SDPK) chaired by former President Almazbek Atambaev.

Jeenbekov announced his decision in parliament on April 3, saying the SDPK had turned into a party in which "one person's dictatorship is prevailing," a clear reference to Atambaev.

"Today, the SDPK is failing to implement its mission because of internal intrigues. And there are attempts to get me involved in those intrigues. But I will not be involved in them," Jeenbekov said.

Also on April 3, some 300 activists who created a splinter group within the party called SDPK Without Atambaev, held a gathering in Bishkek, which they called the SDPK's 8th Congress, at which they elected Sagynbek Abdrakhmanov as party leader.

Meanwhile, the Atambaev-led SDPK announced earlier that the party's 8th Congress will be held on April 6.

On March 18, Atambaev's SDPK announced it would join the opposition.

The SDPK is the largest political party within the Central Asian nation's ruling coalition, which also comprises the Kyrgyzstan Party, Ata-Meken (Fatherland), and Onuguu-Progress.

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

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

On March 17, Atambaev issued a public apology for helping to bring Jeenbekov to power, likening his one-time ally to an autocrat.

The SDPK deputy chairwoman, lawmaker Irina Karamushkina, said in February that Atambaev will lead the party's list of candidates for next year's parliamentary elections.