Kyrgyzstan election: Opposition ‘seize power’ after protests

(BBC) – The opposition in Kyrgyzstan has reportedly seized power after violent protests against what it says was a rigged parliamentary election on Sunday.

Sadyr Japarov was appointed acting prime minister, hours after protesters freed him from jail. President Sooronbai Jeenbekov has hinted that he is ready to stand down.

He told the BBC he was “ready to give the responsibility to strong leaders”, but refused to say who he had in mind.

Protesters gathered on Monday in anger over alleged vote-rigging. Some then overran government buildings and stormed parliament.

By Tuesday morning, a number of high-profile political detainees had also been released, including Mr Japarov, who had been serving an 11-year sentence for kidnapping a regional governor during an opposition protest seven years ago.

Former president Almazbek Atambayev, who was serving an 11-year sentence for corruption, was also released.

Only four political parties out of 16 passed the threshold for entry into parliament in Sunday’s election. Three of the four have close ties to President Jeenbekov.

The president had indicated he was ready to annul the result, before the official announcement came from the Central Election Commission, which said it had invalidated the election results “in consideration of the political situation in the country”.

What’s the latest?

Parliament held an extraordinary session in a hotel in the capital Bishkek to replace the government, as demonstrators threw stones at the windows, chanting for the removal of the old guard.

A BBC correspondent in Bishkek says the opposition is in control of the security forces.

What did the president say?

“The main goal of the protesters was not to annul the election results but to remove me from power,” President Jeenbekov told BBC Kyrgyz in an exclusive phone interview from a secret hideaway.

He urged all parties to return to the “legitimate field” and work together to avoid the political upheavals of the past.

“To solve this issue, I am ready to give the responsibility to strong leaders, no matter which group they belong to. I am even ready to help them,” he added.

In an earlier video address earlier the president accused “certain political forces” of using the results of the election as a reason to “violate public order”. “They did not obey law-enforcers, beat up medical workers and damaged buildings,” he said.

Observers say it appears that Mr Jeenbekov, who was elected in 2017, has lost all influence – but it is not clear who would replace him.

Opposition leaders have set up a Coordination Council but there are reports they are divided, arguing over who gets influential government positions.

How did the violence unfold?

Some 5,000 people gathered in the capital Bishkek’s Ala-Too square on Monday to demonstrate against the election results.

The protest was largely peaceful until the evening, when a smaller group splintered off and tried to break through the gates into the parliament building.

By News784

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