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New Kyrgyz President Bestows 'Hero' Title On Predecessor Atambaev

Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov (left) with his predecessr Almazbek Atambaev (file photo)

BISHKEK -- Kyrgyzstan's newly inaugurated President Sooronbai Jeenbekov has awarded his predecessor Almazbek Atambaev with the title of a national hero.

Kyrgyzstan's presidential administration said on November 27 that the title -- Hero of the Kyrgyz Nation and White Falcon Medal -- was bestowed upon the former president for "his contributions to the strengthening of Kyrgyz statehood."

Atambaev was constitutionally barred from seeking a second term as president.

Jeenbekov, who was inaugurated on November 24, had been Kyrgyzstan's prime minister under Atambaev from April 2016 to August 2017.

Officials results show Jeenbekov won Kyrgyzstan's October 15 election with 54 percent of the first-round vote -- enough to avoid a runoff -- following a campaign in which critics said the outgoing president used the courts, law enforcement, and other levers of power to ensure Jeenbekov's victory.

Jeenbekov’s main rival Omurbek Babanov won just under 34 percent of the vote. He has alleged the election was marred by violations and fled the country to avoid prosecution on charges that he incited ethnic hatred during the campaign.

International election monitors said "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."