OSH, Kyrgyzstan -- The Osh city council has chosen a close ally of controversial acting Mayor Melis Myrzakmatov as chairman.
Twenty-three of the 45 council members selected Taalai Sabirov, Myrzakmatov's former deputy mayor, as chairman on April 13.
Sabirov was supported by Myrzakmatov's Uluttar Birimdigi (Unity of Nationalities) party plus two other parties, including the Zamandash party, which previously allied with pro-government parties against him.
The step moves Myrzakmatov closer to regaining his post since the coalition controlling the city council names the mayor.
Myrzakmatov has served as acting mayor since Osh's March 4 municipal elections.
The government has long sought to remove him, as his critics charge him with doing too little to prevent the deadly clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in Osh two years ago.