Kyrgyzstan opposition divided amid political chaos, protests

Opposition parties in Kyrgyzstan have failed to form a new government as different groups argued over who would be the new prime minister after three days of political chaos in the Central Asian country

Via AP news wire
Wednesday 07 October 2020 17:30
Kyrgyzstan Protests
Kyrgyzstan Protests

Opposition parties in Kyrgyzstan failed to form a new government Wednesday as different groups argued over who would be the new prime minister after three days of political chaos in the Central Asian country

Mass protests erupted in the capital of Bishkek on Monday following a weekend parliamentary election that appeared to show parties connected to the ruling elite winning. Opposition supporters seized several government buildings, looting some offices, and the Central Election Commission responded by nullifying the results of Sunday's balloting.

Members of some opposition parties said they would oust President Sooronbai Jeenbekov and form a new government, and a group of lawmakers on Tuesday night announced the resignation of Prime Minister Kubatbet Boronov and nominated former lawmaker Sadyr Zhaparov to replace him. But neither Bornonov nor Jeenbekov confirmed the prime minister's resignation.

Several opposition parties rejected Zhaparov's candidacy, and another candidate emerged on Wednesday — Tilek Toktogaziyev, a young entrepreneur. Toktogaziev was put forward by one of several “coordination councils” formed by opposition parties and activists since Monday, media reports said.

Kyrgyz media reported that Zhaparov called himself “a legitimate prime minister” at a news conference and said he was “already working, coordinating the situation.”

Supporters of both candidates rallied in the center of Bishkek, and lawmakers convened again in the evening to discuss the situation.

In a statement, Jeenbekov urged all political forces to “get back to (acting) within the law,” but he didn't comment on attempts to appoint a new prime minister.

The unrest followed the announcement of election returns favoring two parties — one said to be closely aligned with Jeenbekov and another linked to a former top customs official amid reports of vote-buying and other election fraud. Police dispersed protests Monday with water cannons, tear gas and flash grenades, killing one person and injuring about 700, according to health officials.

Lawmakers also announced a candidate for parliament speaker, although it was unclear whether any of their moves legal under Kyrgyzstan's constitution.

The country of 6.5 million, one of the poorest to emerge from the former Soviet Union, is strategically located on the border with China and once was home to a U.S. air base that was used for refueling and logistics for the war in Afghanistan. Kyrgyzstan also hosts a Russian air base and maintains close ties with Moscow