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New Bishkek Mayor Elected Amid Protests In Kyrgyzstan

Bishkek's new mayor, Aziz Surakmatov speaking to reporters on August 8.

A new mayor of the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, has been elected by the city council amid protests.

Forty-three out of 44 city council members voted on August 8 for Aziz Surakmatov, the only candidate proposed by the ruling Social Democratic party.

Activists in Bishkek have been protesting for weeks against the fact that there were no other candidates to the post.

On August 8 after the city council voted for Surakmatov, dozens of civil rights activists protested in Bishkek, holding puppets stuck on sticks with labels of several political parties represented at the city council.

Many of the protesters were holding posters, saying "The mayor must be elected, not appointed," and "The City Council must be dismissed."

The protesters then threw the puppets into a trash bin.

On August 7, the Central Election Commission said that the activists' request to establish a direct election of the Mayor of Bishkek by the city's residents had been declined.

Activists also say that the election law requiring a candidate to pass the Kyrgyz language test was violated, stressing that 46-year-old Surakmatov, whose proficiency in Kyrgyz language has been under question, has not been tested.

Bishkek's former mayor, Albek Ibraimov, and former deputy mayor, Renat Makenov, were arrested last month of corruption charges.