former president re-arrested, new prime minister appointed

Almazbek Atambayev, Friday, October 9, in Bishkek, the capital of the country.

Former Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev, released from prison on Tuesday by protesters, was arrested again on Saturday (October 10th), the country’s National Security Committee said, confirming information from the former president’s spokesperson. In a statement, the Committee explained that the former leader of the country, in power between 2011 and 2017, was suspected of having organized massive public disturbances, and that “Other accomplices in this crime” were to be identified and arrested.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Kyrgyzstan sinks into political chaos

The capital in a state of emergency

Almazbek Atambayev was released from prison Tuesday by his supporters while serving an eleven-year sentence for having released an incarcerated mafia boss, which he denounced as a political settling of scores.

The current president, Sooronbaï Jeenbekov, a former ally of Mr. Atambayev who turned against him, on Friday ordered a state of emergency, and called on the army to restore order in the country’s capital, Bishkek, after clashes between opposition groups that left five injured. Challenged in the streets since Monday, Mr. Jeenbekov said he was ready to resign, but only when law and order were restored.

Read also After further clashes between protesters, Kyrgyzstan sinks into crisis

On Saturday, nationalist Sadyr Japarov, released from prison a few days earlier but accused of colluding with the president by opposition members, was nominated for prime minister by the national parliament – he was the only candidate . He told parliament that President Sooronbai Jeenbekov confirmed his intention to step down once a new government was formed.

“I met him at the state residence. He said after government confirmation he would resign “Japarov said upon his appointment, according to Agence France-Presse.

A week of crisis

The political crisis in Kyrgyzstan arose after legislative elections marked by accusations of fraud. They have since been canceled, but without ending the confusion. On Monday, clashes between police and protesters left one dead and more than a thousand injured. In the process, the demonstrators had Mr. Atambayev and several other politicians released from prison.

That same night, Sadyr Japarov, who was serving an eleven-and-a-half-year prison sentence for an attempted hostage-taking of a regional governor in 2013, was released by his supporters. A court overturned his conviction this week.

The crisis raises fears of an outbreak of violence in Kyrgyzstan, considered an island of pluralism in a region where authoritarian regimes are the rule. This former Soviet republic has already experienced two revolutions and seen three of its presidents imprisoned or exiled since its independence.

This situation worries Russia, a regional power with a military base in Kyrgyzstan, which already has a lot to do with the war in Nagorno-Karabakh and the anti-Lukashenko protests in Belarus. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday “Very concerned”, seeing in the crisis “Obvious elements of chaos” and highlighting his “Complexity and its confusion”.

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