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Parliamentary Election Campaign Starts In Kyrgyzstan

The building of Kyrgyzstan's Central Election Committee in the capital, Bishkek
The building of Kyrgyzstan's Central Election Committee in the capital, Bishkek

BISHKEK – Campaigning for a parliamentary election in Kyrgyzstan kicked off on October 29, nearly a year after the Central Asian country was rocked by protests and political turmoil in a contested vote.

The campaign will last until November 27, one day before the elections.

Ninety members of parliament -- the Jogorku Kenesh (Supreme Council) -- will be elected, of which 54 seats will be chosen through national party lists and the remaining 36 decided in district races. Twenty-one parties registered for the vote.

In August, President Sadyr Japarov signed into law a series of changes to the country’s electoral laws that included a reduction in the number of parliamentarians from 120 to 90.

The changes were included in a national referendum on constitutional amendments approved in April.

The April referendum came three months after Japarov was elected president following a tumultuous period that saw the ouster of the previous government amid protests over the October parliamentary vote and months of political wrangling over the country's future.

Japarov proposed drafting a new constitution in November 2020 as he emerged from the turmoil as acting president in the wake of the resignation of then-President Sooronbai Jeenbekov.

He easily won the presidential election in January, while another referendum held in tandem saw voters opt for a presidential system that was the centerpiece of the proposed constitutional amendments.

Some in the former Soviet republic have criticized Japarov, saying the new constitution was rushed through to create an authoritarian system that concentrates too much power into the hands of the president.

Japarov was among several prominent politicians freed from prison by protesters during the October unrest. He had been serving a 10-year prison sentence for hostage taking during a protest against a mining operation in northeast Kyrgyzstan in October 2013. He maintains the charges against him were politically motivated.

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