Following the resignation of Kyrgyzstani President Sooronbay Jeenbekov, power has now passed to Prime Minister Sadyr Japarov, a man who, less than two weeks ago, was in prison on a kidnapping charge.
According to the process for the succession of power outlined in the Kyrgyz constitution, if a president quits, the next person to take charge is the speaker of the Supreme Council, the country’s parliament. Facing political pressure from the opposition, Speaker Kanat Isaev on Thursday rejected the office of acting president, passing the title to Japarov.
“Considering the political situation, as well as the fact that the powers of the current parliament are expiring, I refuse to take presidential powers,” Isaev said. A day later, on the morning of October 16, power was “peacefully” transferred to Japarov.
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Despite until very recently being in prison, Japarov has quickly risen to become the country’s most powerful man. A convicted kidnapper, he was sprung from jail on October 6, when opposition figures forcefully released their allies from behind bars. A well-known nationalist and a member of the Ata-Zhurt party, he was given an 11-and-a-half-year prison term in 2013 for attempting to snatch Emilbek Kaptagaev, a regional governor.
In a country that has seen three presidents toppled by violent protests in just 15 years, another rapid change of power has worried outside observers. On Thursday, EU High Representative Josep Borrell said the transfer of power “raises serious questions.”
Meanwhile, in Russia, which is a vital ally for Kyrgyzstan, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called for the “earliest-possible stabilization of the situation in the republic.”
Unrest in Bishkek began on October 4, following a disputed election. Since then, Kyrgyzstan has seen protesters clash with law enforcement, with thousands taking to the streets to demand Jeenbekov’s resignation. Protesters even broke into the White House, Kyrgyzstan’s presidential residence, and also managed to release former president Almazbek Atambayev from prison.
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