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Kyrgyz Parliament Gives Newly Elected PM Japarov Presidential Powers


Kyrgyz Prime Minister Sadyr Japarov speaks during an extraordinary session of the Jogorku Kenesh for the resignation of President Sooronbai Jeenbekov (not pictured), in Bishkek on October 16.
Kyrgyz Prime Minister Sadyr Japarov speaks during an extraordinary session of the Jogorku Kenesh for the resignation of President Sooronbai Jeenbekov (not pictured), in Bishkek on October 16.

BISHKEK -- Kyrgyzstan’s parliament on October 16 approved the transfer of presidential powers to recently elected Prime Minister Sadyr Japarov after days of uncertainty and political crisis amid mass postelection protests that led to the president’s resignation.

Japarov had already told the country after President Sooronbai Jeenbekov's farewell statement a day earlier that "all power is in my hands" and urged demonstrators in Bishkek to go home.

"The process of power transfer proceeded peacefully," Japarov told parliament.

The Interior Ministry was quoted as issuing a statement saying that "the situation [in Bishkek] has stabilized and remains under law enforcement's control."

Later, after naming a new head of a powerful national security body, Japarov vowed to punish those responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars funneled out of the country and named one of the main suspects, a former deputy customs office director at the heart of an RFE/RL joint investigation first published last year.

At the hastily convened legislative session on October 16, lawmakers also lifted a state of emergency that had been in place in the capital for five days.

Former Kyrgyz President Jeenbekov Says He Resigned To Avoid 'Bloodshed'
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WATCH: Former Kyrgyz President Jeenbekov Says He Resigned To Avoid 'Bloodshed'

Japarov, a former nationalist lawmaker and convicted kidnapper who was freed when a mob stormed a Bishkek prison last week, was elected by lawmakers on October 14 to the post of prime minister.

The next day, Jeenbekov announced his resignation via his website, saying that "peace and unity in our country is more important than any post."

Jeenbekov appeared alongside Japarov in parliament late on October 16 to further explain his resignation in a move that appeared aimed at quelling public tensions.

"The history of our country is measured before and after October 6," Jeenbekov said of the outbreak of major protests, calling it a "turning point."

"These are the most difficult days for every Kyrgyz," he added.

Protesters had demanded Jeenbekov's resignation and new elections to rerun the October 4 voting that they insisted was marred by massive vote fraud.

The Kyrgyz Constitution says the parliament speaker becomes acting president in case the president resigns.

But Kanatbek Isaev, who was made speaker on October 13 amid closed-door maneuvering to quell the unrest, said two days later that he had "no moral right" to assume the presidency until new elections are held.

Japarov has suggested that an early presidential election be held no later than January 10, and proposed lowering the threshold for parties to enter parliament from 7 to 5 percent.

At their October 16 session, lawmakers approved amendments to the law on elections reducing the bar for parliamentary representation from 7 to 5 percent and decreasing the fee for candidates' registration from 5 million soms ($62,300) to 1 million soms.

Shortly after being given presidential powers, Japarov appointed former Emergency Situations Minister Kamchybek Tashiev to the post of the chairman of the powerful State Committee of National Security.

Tashiev pledged to investigate and bring to justice those found to have broken the law, including launching a probe into the activities of a controversial former deputy customs chief Raimbek Matraimov.

A joint investigation by RFE/RL and others found that Matraimov for years enabled and profited massively from a smuggling empire run by a secretive Uyghur family and used some of the proceeds to buy influence.

"I have never had or will have any business, political or party ties with him," Tashiev said of Matraimov. "No Matraimovs, no Raims rule our society. There will be justice in our society from now on."

Hours later, in his statement, Japarov repeated that authorities would be questioning Matraimov.

"First of all, we will bring to a conclusion the case of some $700 million taken out of Kyrgyzstan, and the main suspect Matraimov and other suspects will be punished for [whatever they have done] to our country in accordance with strict laws," Japarov said. "Certain tasks have been given to law enforcement agencies already -- and we will be able to present you results of this work as soon as possible."

Meanwhile, Central Election Commission chairwoman Nurjan Shaildabekova said that new elections were tentatively scheduled for January 17.

These October 4 results were annulled after protesters -- angry at evidence of vote-buying and other improprieties during the election -- seized government buildings on October 6, which led to the crisis.

With reporting by AKIpress, TASS, Kaktus, and KyrTAG

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