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Fugitive Former Kyrgyz Presidential Candidate Babanov Faces New Charges

Omurbek Babanov speaks at a news conference in Bishkek in October 2017.

BISHKEK -- Authorities in Kyrgyzstan have launched a new case against fugitive opposition politician and former presidential candidate Omurbek Babanov.

Babanov is suspected of plotting riots and the seizure of power in the Central Asian country, State National Security Committee (UKMK) spokesman Rakhat Sulaimanov told RFE/RL on March 28.

A businessman who finished second in the October 2017 presidential election, Babanov left the country after the authorities launched an investigation on charges that he incited ethnic hatred during the campaign.

President Sooronbai Jeenbekov, the ruling-party candidate, won the election with backing from outgoing leader Almazbek Atambaev and took office in November.

Babanov, whose current whereabouts is unknown, has alleged the vote was marred by violations.

International election monitors said that "numerous and significant problems were noted" during the vote count and that "misuse of public resources, pressure on voters, and vote buying remain a concern."