Kyrgyzstan: one dead in the clashes, the president says he controls the country

Bishkek | The Kyrgyz president on Tuesday claimed to control the country, where post-election violence left one dead overnight and saw opposition protesters invade the seat of government and release the head of state’s great rival from prison.

Kyrgyz leader Sooronbai Jeenbekov “controls the situation and expressed confidence that the political forces will place the country’s interest above their own,” the presidency said.

Man, “probably a protester” because of his civilian clothes, died after being injured in clashes between police and demonstrators in Bishkek, the capital, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health told AFP on Tuesday Kirghiz.

For his part, the Kyrgyz president assured in a statement that he had not knowingly given the order to open fire on the demonstrators who, on the night of Monday to Tuesday, stormed a series of official buildings, including the seat of government, nicknamed the White House, where offices were partially ransacked.

“I ordered the police (…) not to spill blood,” said Sooronbaï Jeenbekov.

He also claimed to have asked the Central Election Commission to “carefully examine all violations and, if necessary, overturn the results of legislative elections” won by pro-presidential parties.

The statements came after the demonstrators released Almazbek Atambayev, the former president and former ally turned rival of Mr. Jeenbekov from prison.

The street replicates

Mr. Atambayev was detained in the prison of the security services, after a sentence of eleven years imprisonment, and awaiting a new trial for organizing mass unrest and murder, charges related to his arrest in violence in 2019 which had already threatened to destabilize the country.

Several other political figures detained were released by the demonstrators on the night of Monday to Tuesday.

These riots are reminiscent of those of 2005 and 2010 which turned into a revolution, peppered with looting, driving out of power the authorities in place accused of corruption and authoritarian drift.

Sunday’s legislative elections and their controversial results brought thousands of power critics to the streets of the capital on Monday.

Then in the night, clashes with the police broke out after riot police tried to disperse the protesters using stun grenades, tear gas and water cannons.

The street responded with cobblestones and other projectiles, protecting itself from the police, in particular with burning garbage cans.

At least 120 people have been hospitalized following the clashes, according to the Ministry of Health.

Voice purchase

Adil Turdoukov, an ally of Mr. Atambayev, said that the release of the ex-president was done “without violence”, and that the forces present had not put up resistance.

Protesters are calling for Sooronbai Jeenbekov’s resignation and new elections to be held after Sunday’s saw two parties supporting the head of state dominate the ballot.

The protest, which originally took place peacefully, was organized on Monday at the call of several political parties who failed to meet the 7% threshold required to enter parliament.

However, even before the vote, suspicions of considerable vote buying hung over these elections.

The head of the OSCE mission to observe the elections, Thomas Boserup, had judged that these “credible allegations” raised “serious concern”.

On Tuesday morning, supporters of Sadyr Japarov, a nationalist politician released from prison overnight, demanded his appointment as prime minister.

Local media announced for their part that two opponents, whose parties failed to enter Parliament, said they had control of the security forces and the general prosecutor’s office.

The authorities in Kyrgyzstan, a poor country in ex-Soviet Central Asia, have been plagued by a series of political and financial scandals in recent months. The country was also the scene in 2010 of deadly ethnic clashes targeting the Uzbek community in southern Kyrgyzstan.

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