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Four Key Questions About Kyrgyzstan's Fast-Moving Political Changes

People protest during a rally against the results of a parliamentary vote in Bishkek on October 5.

In less than 48 hours, Kyrgyzstan has gone through major political events -- from holding parliamentary elections on October 4 to a full-blown uprising as angry protests erupted over the disputed election results.

President Sooronbai Jeenbekov says he is still in charge, though it's unclear where he is and his office was taken over by protesters. An abruptly established Coordination Council -- made up of the heads of many opposition political parties -- has announced steps to replace the government and ordered parliament to convene.

With the situation still volatile, let's take a look at four key questions about the fast-moving events in the Central Asian country.

Who Is In Charge Of Kyrgyzstan Today?

Kyrgyzstan appears to be in a de facto power vacuum since anti-government protesters -- angry with the disputed results of the parliamentary elections -- seized the headquarters of the president and the parliament, the State Committee For National Security (UKMK), and the public television and radio company (KTRK).

The Kyrgyz government said early on October 6 that it was working under a special arrangement, without giving details, but several of its ministers had tendered their resignations.

The Central Election Commission also announced that the results of the controversial elections had been annulled, with new ones presumably to be scheduled.

Bishkek Mayor Aziz Surakmatov and governors of several regions and districts have also resigned amid the upheaval.

The parliament then met -- in a Bishkek hotel because the parliament chambers had been occupied and damaged by protesters -- in an emergency meeting on October 6, after first saying it could not find a quorum.

Turmoil In Kyrgyzstan After Disputed Elections
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Meanwhile, the Mekenchil opposition party announced it was nominating newly freed nationalist politician Sadyr Japarov to the post of prime minister. Some of Japarov's supporters called for him to be made president.

RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported that Omurbek Suvanaliev, a leading member of the opposition Butun (United) Kyrgyzstan party, had been appointed the interim chief of the UKMK, replacing Orozbek Opumbaev, whose location is unknown.

The Finance Ministry announced that it was suspending all financial transactions "until further notice from the legitimate authorities," adding that it had "acknowledged the power of the people."

The ministry said in a statement that the staff had unanimously voted to appoint Kyyalbek Mukashev as acting finance minister.

What Is The Coordination Council?

In an apparent attempt to fill the power vacuum, major opposition parties announced the creation of a so-called Coordination Council on October 6 and named Adakhan Madumarov, the leader of the Butun Kyrgyzstan party, to be the chairman of the abruptly established body.

Adakhan Madumarov (file photo)
Adakhan Madumarov (file photo)

The council currently brings together eight parties: Ata-Meken (Fatherland), Butun Kyrgyzstan, Zamandash (Contemporary), the Social Democrats, Bir Bol (Stay United) Ordo (The Horde) , Respublika (Republic), and Reforma (Reform). It has invited others to join.

The council announced it had called on the outgoing parliament to convene an emergency meeting and appoint a new speaker, which it seemingly did late on October 6, electing Myktybek Abdyldaev to replace Dastan Jumabekov, who had resigned.

The announcement is important because the parliament speaker is first in the line of succession should the president resign or otherwise be unable to serve.

But several deputies said at a gathering in Bishkek that they had not heard about the parliament meeting held at the hotel, which was reportedly attended by 20 of the body's 120 lawmakers. It was announced at the hotel that 67 of the deputies had also taken part in the meeting by giving power of attorney to someone or participating by video.

The discrepancy about the claimed parliament meeting puts the results of its vote for a new speaker into question.

How Do The Latest Events Affect President Jeenbekov's Status?

Jeenbekov's office insists the president "controls the situation," saying in a statement that he "is doing everything to restore law and order" in the country. Legally, Jeenbekov remains in power.

However, his whereabouts is currently unknown amid speculation the president fled to his native Osh Province in the south

But a spokesperson said he remained in Bishkek.

Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov urged politicians to calm their supporters on October 6.
Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov urged politicians to calm their supporters on October 6.

In an interview with the BBC, he said that "as a legitimate president" he had "a big role" in trying to unite all sides and that he was willing to hold talks with the leaders of the various political parties in order to resolve the situation.

"I must unite them, and I must be ready to negotiate with each of them. This is my duty and I'm ready," he said when asked if he was willing to sit down for negotiations.

In a video shared early on October 6, Jeenbekov described the protests as an attempt by some political forces to seize power illegally. But he expressed his readiness for the contested election results to be annulled, which occurred shortly afterward.

Opposition representatives say they have been unsuccessful in trying to contact the president in order to hold a meeting.

Meanwhile, videos shared on social media showed protesters walking in the president's offices in Bishkek's White House, damaging furniture and destroying portraits of the president. No police or official security guards were in sight and protesters were guarding the exits of the building.

Protesters Storm Kyrgyz President's Office
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Fire also broke out early on October 6 on some floors of the White House, causing firefighters to rush to the scene and put out the fires.

Where Does Kyrgyzstan Go From Here?

The Coordination Council seems to be taking steps to try to move the country forward, saying that "now it is time to end the street democracy" and handle the state affairs by political means.

Janar Akaev, a leader of Ata-Meken (and a former RFE/RL journalist), said the parliament will hold another session on October 7 to formalize the next steps decided by the Coordination Council. "We will elect a...people-supported, new government," Akaev said on October 6.

It's widely expected that by electing a new parliament speaker, the council may try to force Jeenbekov to resign. In that scenario, the parliament speaker would become acting president in accordance with the constitution.

However, in Kyrgyzstan -- which is undergoing its third major upheaval in the past 15 years -- political events are quite often very hard to predict.

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    Farangis Najibullah

    Farangis Najibullah is a senior correspondent for RFE/RL who has reported on a wide range of topics from Central Asia, including the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the region. She has extensively covered efforts by Central Asian states to repatriate and reintegrate their citizens who joined Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.