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Ousted Kyrgyz Prime Minister Becomes Deputy Chairman Of Ex-President's Party

Sapar Isakov (center) was elected at a KSDP congress on April 27.

BISHKEK -- Former Kyrgyz Prime Minister Sapar Isakov has been elected as a deputy chairman of the Social Democratic Party (KSDP) led by ex-President Almazbek Atambaev.

Isakov was elected to the post at a KSDP gathering in Bishkek on April 27, a day after he was questioned by investigators over an incident that left parts of the capital without heating last winter.

Isakov's election as Atambaev's deputy is seen by many as a sign of support by the former president for his close ally.

Isakov and his government were dismissed by President Sooronbai Jeenbekov on April 19, hours after lawmakers passed a no-confidence motion initiated by opposition lawmakers following criticism of the government's annual report.

In an unexpected move, the ruling coalition led by the KSDP abruptly withdrew its backing for Isakov, prompting his cabinet's fall.

Isakov's successor, Mukhammedkalyi Abylgaziev, and his government were sworn in on April 25.

Earlier in April, Jeenbekov fired several Atambaev allies, including Prosecutor-General Indira Joldubaeva and security-service chief Abdil Segizbaev, who had been criticized for a crackdown on opposition politicians and independent journalists.

Atambaev kept a low profile for several months after leaving office five months ago, but has recently begun publicly criticizing his former protege and anointed successor.

Kyrgyzstan, a country of 6 million that hosts a Russian military base, is widely seen as the most democratic but also the most politically volatile of the five Central Asian states that gained independence in the Soviet breakup of 1991.

Antigovernment protests toppled presidents in 2005 and 2010.