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Nazarbaev's Meeting With Kyrgyz Presidential Candidate Sparks Controversy


Omurbek Babanov (file photo)

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev's meeting with a leading Kyrgyz presidential contender, Omurbek Babanov, has sparked controversy in Kyrgyzstan, where a presidential election is scheduled for October 15.

The Kazakh presidential website said on September 19 that Nazarbaev "stressed the necessity to further strengthen ties between the two brotherly nations" at his meeting in Almaty with Babanov.

The Kazakh presidential website's description of the meeting looked like coverage of talks between two equal leaders. The date of the talks was not mentioned.

"During the years of Kyrgyzstan's independence I have always tried to fruitfully work with all your presidents," Nazarbaev said at the talks. "We will be continuing to effectively cooperate with a new president the Kyrgyz nation grants its trust,"

Babanov said in response that when he was Kyrgyzstan's prime minister, Nazarbaev was "always providing us with all possible assistance."

"We accept with joy the successful achievement of brotherly Kazakhstan," Babanov said.

Abdyjapar Bekmatov, a member of Kyrgyzstan's Central Election Commission, told RFE/RL that the commission will study the content and subject of the reported talks and will issue its own assessment of the meeting.

"The commission will study the talks to find out if the meeting was linked to election campaign and will make an assessment," Bekmatov said.

Outgoing Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev has publicly supported another presidential candidate, also a former prime minister, Sooronbai Jeenbekov.

Atambaev, who took office in 2007, is barred by Kyrgyzstan's constitution from seeking a second term.

Thirteen candidates have been registered to run for president in the October 15 vote.

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