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Kyrgyz President Says He Will Step Down Only After A Repeat Of Parliamentary Polls

Updated

Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov (file photo)

BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov will resign only after the Central Asian nation holds a rerun of its parliamentary elections, his spokeswoman said on October 14, a stance that might reignite tensions in the country.

The statement came after newly elected Prime Minister Sadyr Japarov met with Jeenbekov to urge him to keep a promise to resign as the country reels from a political crisis sparked by the disputed elections earlier this month.

"The president will resign as soon as he returns the country to the legal field, or as soon as [new] parliamentary elections are held and a new presidential election is announced," Jeenbekov's spokeswoman, Tolgonai Stamaliyeva, said on October 14.

President Sooronbai Jeenbekov (righty) meets with the speaker of parliament, Kanatbek Isaev (left) and Prime Minister Sadyr Japarov in Bishkek on October 14.
President Sooronbai Jeenbekov (righty) meets with the speaker of parliament, Kanatbek Isaev (left) and Prime Minister Sadyr Japarov in Bishkek on October 14.

Jeenbekov met with Japarov after approving earlier in the day the parliament's decision to confirm him as prime minister.

"I think we have to get back to the initial agreement when the president promised to step down after the situation is stabilized," Japarov said.

The confirmation of Japarov, who was released from a prison where he was serving a lengthy prison term on kidnapping charges, moves the Central Asian state a step toward resolving the crisis sparked by the demonstrations over the official results of the October 4 parliamentary elections.

Official results showed a landslide victory for Jeenbekov's allies. The result was annulled after protesters -- angry at signs of vote-buying and other improprieties during the election -- seized government buildings on October 6.

Jeenbekov, in one of his first statements after the mass protests ousted the government and parliament speaker, said he was ready to resign after a new cabinet is formed and the situation in the country is normalized.

But his announcement that he will only resign after a repeat election threatens to generate new tensions.

Jeenbekov had called on political parties to resolve the ongoing political crisis by legal means after rejecting an October 10 attempt to appoint Japarov prime minister by a group of lawmakers, saying that there was no quorum at the parliamentary session.

Japarov quickly recommended some people to be part of a new cabinet, proposing Artyom Novikov to the post of first deputy prime minister and Ravshan Sabirov, Maksat Mamytkanov, and Aida Ismailova as deputy prime ministers.

Lawmakers had already elected Kanatbek Isaev as the new speaker of parliament.

Kyrgyzstan's 6.5 million people are currently under a state of emergency, but that failed to stop some Japarov's supporters from gathering in central Bishkek, defying a ban on rallies, to demand that the president resign and parliament dissolve itself.

In the wake of protests, then-parliament speaker Dastan Jumabekov resigned and a group of lawmakers named Myktybek Abdyldaev as the new parliament chairman.

However, Abdyldaev resigned from the post on October 10 amid statements by some political parties and lawmakers questioning the legitimacy of his appointment.

The U.S. Embassy in Bishkek on October 13 voiced support for “the efforts of President Jeenbekov, political leaders, civil society, and legal scholars to return the political life of the country to a constitutional order" and warned about the threat that organized crime poses to Kyrgyz democracy.

"It is clear that one of the obstacles towards democratic progress is the attempt by organized crime groups to exert influence over politics and elections," the embassy said in a statement, adding that the impact of organized crime "was evident with vote-buying during the October 4 elections, violence and intimidation in Ala-Too Square on October 9, and irregularities in the parliament session on October 10."

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