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Babanov Steps Down As Kyrgyz Opposition Parliamentary Faction Leader

Omurbek Babanov gives an interview after voting at the polling station during the presidential election in Bishkek on October 15.

BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz opposition leader Omurbek Babanov, who finished second in the October 15 presidential poll and is being investigated for alleged calls for disturbances, has stepped down as the leader of the Respublika--Ata-Jurt (Republic--Homeland) parliamentary faction.

A faction member, lawmaker Aliyarbek Abjaliev, told RFE/RL that Babanov's letter of resignation was discussed at the faction's gathering on November 13.

According to Abjaliev, the faction's new leader will be elected in the near future.

Babanov managed to obtain more than 33 percent of the vote in last month's presidential election.

On November 4, the Prosecutor-General's Office launched investigations into Babanov's attempts at "stoking ethnic, racial, and religious hatred" and "publicly calling for the violent change of the constitutional order."

Right after the election, Babanov left the country and his current whereabouts is unknown.

Babanov's meeting with the president of neighboring Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbaev, during his campaign in early October led to a standoff between the two Central Asian states.

Outgoing Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev's publicly accused Kazakhstan of meddling into the Kyrgyz elections and accused Babanov of being "a foreign country's puppet."

Former Prime Minister Sooronbai Jeenbekov won the election and his inauguration is expected on November 24.