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Kyrgyz Deputy Premier 'Temporarily' Steps Down Amid Graft Allegations

Kyrgyz Deputy Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov has temporarily stepped down following accusations of financial wrongdoing.
BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz First Deputy Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov has announced that he will temporarily step down until a committee clears him of financial wrongdoing, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Babanov said on April 13 in Bishkek that he had asked Prime Minister Almazbek Atambaev to temporarily free him from his post so that a parliamentary commission could investigate the allegations by different politicians about his alleged involvement in illegal financial activities.

The coalition partner Ata-Jurt (Homeland) parliamentary faction has repeatedly called for Babanov's resignation. The opposition Ata-Meken (Fatherland) party joined Ata-Jurt on April 12, saying that Babanov's resignation is necessary but can only be decided by Atambaev.

Kyrgyzstan's coalition government is made up of Respublika, Ata-Jurt, and the Social Democratic Party.

Former Prosecutor-General Kubatbek Baibolov, who was sacked by President Roza Otunbaeva on March 30, said the next day in parliament that he had information proving Babanov's involvement in corrupt financial activity.

Baibolov's statement was followed by a scuffle in parliament between Ata-Jurt leader Kamchybek Tashiev, who said his party would quit the coalition government if the accusations against Babanov are proven, and a deputy from Babanov's Respublika party, Altynbek Sulaimanov.

Baibolov told RFE/RL on April 1 that his sacking was a politically motivated decision by Otunbaeva in preparation for the presidential election slated for the fall.

He added that he believes Otunbaeva wants Atambaev to become president. Baibolov said that Atambaev, in turn, wants Babanov to be the next prime minister.

Read more in Kyrgyz here and here