President of Kyrgyzstan resigns after 10 days of chaos

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Bishkek | The President of Kyrgyzstan announced his resignation on Thursday, hoping to put an end to the political chaos and the demonstrations punctuated by violence that have plagued this Central Asian country for ten days, after controversial legislative elections.

These October 4 elections, won by groups close to the Head of State, triggered a wave of violent demonstrations that left one dead and some 1,200 injured.

Shortly after their announcement and the first clashes, the election results, discredited due to serious suspicions of vote buying, were canceled, which did not however stabilize Kyrgyzstan.

“I do not cling to power, I do not want to enter the history of Kyrgyzstan like the president who shed blood by shooting his fellow citizens. This is why I decided to resign, ”declared Sooronbaï Jeenbekov, according to the presidency of this ex-Soviet republic bordering on China.

The latter had promised last week to withdraw from power once calm had returned, and added on Wednesday that he would therefore await the holding of new legislative elections.

It also received support from Russia, the main power in post-Soviet Central Asia, which has a military base in Kyrgyzstan.

Finally, Mr. Jeenbekov had to resolve to resign on Thursday, under pressure from the newly elected Prime Minister by Parliament, Sadyr Japarov, a nationalist with a sulphurous reputation who demanded his immediate departure.

The president noted that the entry into office of the new head of government had not “reduced aggressiveness” or “calls for my resignation”.

“For me, peace in Kyrgyzstan, the integrity of our country, the unity of our people and peace in society are the most important,” he said.

Mr Jeenbekov called on “Japarov and other politicians to take their supporters off the streets”.

Prison for hostage taking

However, several hundred protesters loyal to the prime minister were still in the streets Thursday afternoon to now demand the resignation of the President of Parliament, who according to the Constitution must ensure the interim head of state.

If the latter were to be fulfilled, the chairmanship would go to Mr. Japarov.

The latter for its part does not have an immaculate reputation.

He had been serving since 2017 and until the beginning of last week a sentence of 11 and a half years in prison for having participated in the hostage-taking of a regional governor.

He was freed by his supporters thanks to the post-electoral chaos, then had his conviction overturned in the wake and under unclear circumstances.

Thanks to his supporters, occupying the streets and public buildings, he managed to impose his nomination for the post of prime minister, although Mr. Jeenbekov tried to resist him, refusing at first to validate his appointment at the end of ‘a controversial first vote by deputies.

Kyrgyzstan, the most pluralist but also the most unstable country in Central Asia, has already experienced two revolutions, in 2005 and 2010. Two of its former presidents are in exile and a third, Almazbek Atambaïev, the predecessor of Mr. Jeenbekov , is imprisoned.

This mountainous state, on the edge of the former Soviet empire, is also one of the poorest in the region.

It was the scene of deadly violence targeting the Uzbek minority in the south in 2010.

Mr Jeenbekov’s three years in power were marked by his struggle with his predecessor, who was ultimately arrested after a violent face-to-face in 2019.

Repeated corruption scandals have also fueled mistrust of the resigning head of state.

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