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Kyrgyz President Fires Government Following No-Confidence Vote


Since Sooronbai Jeenbekov's (left) inauguration as president in November, his relations with predecessor Almazbek Atambaev (right) have soured.

BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov has dismissed the government, hours after lawmakers passed a no-confidence motion against the cabinet of Prime Minister Sapar Isakov, amid an apparent power struggle between Jeenbekov and his predecessor, Almazbek Atambaev.

Jeenbekov's press service said that the cabinet members will continue working until a new government is formed.

The vote was initiated by a group of opposition lawmakers, and followed criticism of the cabinet's 2017 annual report by opposition parties.

However, the ruling coalition, led by Atambaev's Social Democratic Party, suddenly withdrew its backing for Isakov, with 101 lawmakers out of 112 present voting against him. The parliament has a total of 120 seats.

The move was surprising since Isakov, 39, who took over as prime minister in August, is considered a close ally of Atambaev, and the ruling coalition's vote apparently indicates broad parliamentary support for Jeenbekov.

Later on April 19, the ruling Social Democratic Party nominated the chief of the presidential office, Mukhammetkalyi Abylgaziev, to replace Isakov.

The proposal will be discussed at the parliament's special session on April 20, lawmakers said.

Atambaev kept a low profile for several months after leaving office five months ago, but he has publicly criticized Jeenbekov on several occasions following his election as head of the ruling Social Democratic Party on March 31.

Earlier in April, Jeenbekov dismissed Abdil Segizbaev, the chief of the State Committee for National Security, and Prosecutor-General Indira Joldubaeva, who are also Atambaev allies and had long been criticized for a crackdown on opposition politicians and independent journalists.

Kyrgyzstan, a Central Asian country of 6 million which hosts a Russian military base, has been volatile since gaining independence in 1991, with political conflicts erupting into antigovernment protests that toppled presidents in 2005 and 2010.

Atambaev had backed Jeenbekov in the presidential election but started criticizing him this month in a sign of a rift between the two.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and Interfax
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