Elections

Kyrgyzstan mulls December parliamentary elections in bid to end political unrest

Caravanserai and AFP

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Recently appointed Kyrgyz Prime Minister Sadyr Japarov (left) and Sooronbay Jeenbekov (right), the former president, walk to attend the extraordinary parliamentary session in Bishkek on October 16. [Vyacheslav Oseledko/AFP]

BISHKEK -- Kyrgyzstan may hold fresh parliamentary elections on December 20, with a presidential vote tentatively scheduled for a month later on January 17, according to the Central Election Commission (CEC).

The dates have yet to be confirmed, Nurjan Shaildabekova, chairwoman of the agency, told reporters on Friday (October 16).

Sooronbay Jeenbekov Thursday (October 15) became the third Kyrgyz president to resign since 2005, in a move that he said he hoped would spare the ex-Soviet country further bloodshed.

One person died and more than 1,200 people were injured during clashes between protesters and police after parliamentary elections on October 4, which opponents say was rigged.

While the vote was annulled, it did not ease the threat of a power vacuum opening in the country.

Speaking in parliament, Jeenbekov confirmed his resignation and said he was "unstained before the Almighty and the people". MPs applauded him as he left the room.

His departure means that recently appointed Prime Minister Sadyr Japarov assumes presidential powers on an interim basis as the parliamentary speaker refused the post.

Japarov pledged to oversee fresh parliamentary elections that are expected to take place in December.

Moscow has not rushed to recognise his new authority, with the Kremlin appearing to back Jeenbekov in the pair's standoff at the beginning of the week.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been seen as beset with fear stemming from the frozen conflicts dating back to Soviet times that are erupting in the countries around Russia.

The Kremlin appears to have no answers for the political crises in Belarus and Kyrgyzstan, and the escalating Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Volatility continues

Power "was transferred peacefully, and we should be grateful to God for that", Japarov told parliament.

"I will make every effort to preserve our foreign policy and other important missions [of the government]," he said.

Still, a lawmaker who spoke afterwards warned Japarov that he would not be able to run for president as per the constitution and said it was unprecedented for a Kyrgyz official to hold both positions.

"Fate gives you such a test and opportunity," said Omurbek Tekebayev, who was seen as driving constitutional changes after the country's 2010 revolution.

None of the lawmakers spoke out against Japarov, whose supporters have massed in the capital since the crisis began.

Japarov was among several prominent figures sprung from jail during the unrest. He was convicted of hostage-taking and has been suspected of ties to organised crime, which he has denied.

Kyrgyzstan has been dogged by political volatility for much of the three decades since it became independent in 1991.

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