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Kyrgyz President Holds Talks With Lawmakers On Crisis, Impeachment


Supporters of Sadyr Japarov, a candidate for the post of interim prime minister, attend a rally in Bishkek on October 8.
Supporters of Sadyr Japarov, a candidate for the post of interim prime minister, attend a rally in Bishkek on October 8.

BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov, who has not been seen in public since his government was ousted by mass protests this week, has held his first round of talks with members of parliament as they look to restore order in the Central Asian nation.

The parliament's press service said on October 8 that Jeenbekov even discussed the possibility of his own impeachment with Myktybek Abdyldaev, whom a group of lawmakers named as parliament's new speaker in the wake of the protests.

Unrest sparked by allegations of vote buying and impropriety during parliamentary elections last weekend has gripped the Central Asian nation, which borders China and hosts a Russian military airbase, with thousands of demonstrators spilling into the streets and seizing government buildings.

The talks on October 8 came as hundreds rallied in the southern city of Osh and the nearby town of Kara-Suu, to express support for Jeenbekov.

"The issue of impeachment raised by the parliament was discussed. On that issue, the president said it was most important to bring the situation in the country to within legal boundaries first. After that, he clearly said he is ready to sit with the parliamentary chairman and other [political] groups to discuss all other issues," Jeenbekov's spokeswoman Tolgonai Stamalieva said.

Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov (file photo)
Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov (file photo)

Earlier in the day, the deputy secretary of the Security Council, Omurbek Suvanaliev, who is acting chief of the State Committee for National Security (UKMK), said he had ordered the border=guard service to stop top officials from leaving the country.

In Moscow, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman told reporters that Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) head Aleksandr Bortnikov held talks with Suvanaliev on October 7.

The FSB supports the Kyrgyz security service in its efforts "to prevent the situation in the country from sliding into chaos," Dmitry Peskov said.

Kyrgyz lawmakers have failed to gather a quorum to discuss Jeenbekov's impeachment and other issues related to the political crisis amid a power vacuum.

Lawmaker Ryskeldi Mombekov told RFE/RL on October 8 that only 40 members of parliament gathered in a Bishkek hotel overnight to set a date for an extraordinary session of parliament, elect an interim prime minister to set a new cabinet, and decide on Jeenbekov's impeachment. At least 61 of the 120 members of parliament must be present at parliamentary sessions to have the lawmakers' decisions be considered legitimate.

It was the second attempt by the fractious outgoing parliament to gather to discuss ways to solve the crisis.

Another lawmaker, Elvira Surabaldieva told RFE/RL that it was Abdyldaev who refused to include Jeenbekov's impeachment on the gathering's agenda.

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Opposition groups have proposed candidates for an interim prime minister, who would need to oversee a repeat vote in the coming months.

Sadyr Japarov, whom many in Kyrgyzstan consider to be linked to Jeenbekov, and Tilek Toktogaziev, who was nominated by youth groups, have made their ambitions for the post clear this week.

Several lawmakers told RFE/RL that Omurbek Babanov, who has already served as the cabinet head, had also emerged as a contender.

The Association of Kyrgyzstan's Entrepreneurs announced on October 8 that they would nominate their own candidate, Askar Sydykov, the executive director of the International Business Council.

Kyrgyzstan's central bank allowed financial institutions to reopen on October 8 after their closure two days earlier, as business associations warned the country could face food shortages if banks and tax offices remained shut, which would create public safety fears.

Omurbek Babanov, who has already served as the cabinet head, has also emerged as a contender for interim prime minister. (file photo)
Omurbek Babanov, who has already served as the cabinet head, has also emerged as a contender for interim prime minister. (file photo)

The results of the October 4 parliamentary elections handed victory to pro-government parties. Opposition parties refused to accept the results, and the Central Election Commission subsequently annulled them in the wake of the protests.

Jeenbekov has not appeared in public since the protests erupted and ousted the cabinet, although his office said he remains in the capital, Bishkek. Jeenbekov has issued three statements calling for talks between rival political factions.

The protests were marred by the death of 19-year-old Umutbek Altynbek-uulu, while more than 1,000 people have sought medical attention since the unrest broke out as police and men in civilian clothing scuffled with protesters.

Altynbek-uulu was buried in his native southern Batken region on October 8.

During the protests, jailed former top officials, including former President Almazbek Atambaev, convicted on corruption charges and facing other trials, were released.

Acting Interior Minister Kursan Asanov, who took over this week after running in the election as an opposition candidate, said on October 8 that the issue of the legality of the former officials' release will be decided after a new government is formed.

Also, the heads of departments across Kyrgyzstan were removed by force or voluntary resignation during the protests this week, while the mayors of Bishkek and the second-largest city in the country's south, Osh, were also replaced.

However, on October 8, Bishkek Mayor Aziz Surakmatov returned to his office and announced that he would continue to carry out his mayoral duties.

A day earlier, Osh Mayor Taalaibek Sarybashov also returned to his office and said that he would also continue to carry out his duties despite the ongoing rallies by both his supporters and opponents in the city.

With reporting by Reuters

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