Kyrgyzstan sinks into political crisis

A protester stands guard outside central government offices on October 7 in Bishkek.

The Kremlin says to itself “Concerned” and Washington called for restraint for “A peaceful solution”. But in Bishkek, the bustling capital of Kyrgyzstan, the political crisis is deepening. And chaos spread to the rest of the country, with looting by individuals and attacks on industrial sites by armed gangs. This scenario is reminiscent of the riots and “revolutions” of 2005 and 2010 which had driven out previous accused regimes, like the current power, of widespread corruption and authoritarian drift.

In his residence, President Sooronbai Jeenbekov assured “Control” the situation. But, just a few hundred yards away, it’s quite the opposite. Since Monday, in the aftermath of controversial legislative elections marked by massive electoral fraud, a crowd of demonstrators has occupied the “White House”, the seat of both Parliament and the presidential administration. After violent clashes with the police, which left one dead and nearly 700 injured on the night from Monday to Tuesday, protesters also seized several other key official buildings, including central government offices, where rooms were ransacked and windows smashed.

Massive electoral fraud

Prime Minister Kubatbek Boronov resigned, quickly replaced by Sadyr Japarov, who, hours earlier, had just been released from prison by protesters. A court had sentenced him to ten years in prison for allegedly organizing riots. The new head of government, a critic of President Sooronbai Jeenbekov, was appointed by parliamentarians in extraordinary session not in the Assembly occupied by the protesters, but in a hotel in Bishkek. Faced with the sling, the President of Parliament had just resigned. A few hours earlier, the crowd had released another figure opposed to the president: his predecessor Almazbek Atambayev, arrested in 2019 and sentenced in June to eleven years in detention. Fresh out of his cell after his surprising, quick and smooth release, he was cheered by a crowd of supporters.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Kyrgyzstan: Protesters Release Former President Atambayev, Legislative Elections Canceled

While political disorder reigns and many businesses in Bishkek prefer to keep their doors closed, a dozen political parties have formed a “coordination council” to restore order. They accuse President Sooronbai Jeenbekov of orchestrating Sunday’s legislative frauds, largely won by parties close to power. Among them: the training of the president’s younger brother, who was able to exploit significant administrative resources to campaign, as well as another movement led by the former deputy head of the customs service, suspected of having made his fortune thanks to a corruption scheme at the country’s borders. Both were able to buy hundreds of thousands of votes. These frauds were all the more massive as the Covid-19 epidemic exacerbated the poverty of the population – and therefore encouraged this widespread use of electoral corruption.

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