Kyrgyzstan president resigns to end post-election crisis

Reuters
Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov resigned on Thursday, leaving a power vacuum after days of unrest following a disputed election.
Reuters

Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov resigned on Thursday, leaving a power vacuum after days of unrest following a disputed election.

Jeenbekov, who said he wanted to prevent clashes between security forces and protesters who have demanded his removal, became the third president of the small Central Asian nation since 2005 to be toppled in a popular uprising.

It was not immediately clear who would take control of the country. Constitutional rules say the parliament speaker, Kanatbek Isayev, should assume the presidential powers. But some opposition groups want Isayev to step aside as well, putting control in the hands of Sadyr Japarov, a nationalist who was named prime minister after his supporters freed him from jail last week.

Isayev said parliament would accept Jeenbekov’s resignation Friday, but did not make his own full intentions clear. He was quoted by local news website 24.kg as saying he had “no moral right” to the presidency because of the lame duck status of the parliament, which faces a rerun of the disputed election.

Japarov’s spokesman declined to say whether the prime minister would now press for Isayev to step aside.

Kyrgyzstan has been in turmoil since the October 4 vote, which the opposition rejected after Jeenbekov’s allies were declared the winners. The opposition said the election was tainted by vote-buying and other irregularities. The vote was later annulled but this did not quell the tensions.

In a statement announcing his resignation, Jeenbekov said he feared violence might break out if protesters carried out a threat to march on his compound.

“The military and security forces will be obliged to use their weapons to protect the state residence. Blood will be inevitably shed,” he said. “I do not want to go down in Kyrgyzstan’s history as a president who shed blood and shot at his own citizens.”

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