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Kyrgyzstan Annuls Results Of Parliamentary Elections After Night Of Deadly Protests

By RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service October 06, 2020

BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz election officials have annulled the official results of weekend parliamentary elections after a chaotic night of protests over alleged vote buying by parties close to President Sooronbai Jeenbekov turned deadly.

Central Election Commission (BShK) member Gulnura Jurabaeva wrote on Facebook on October 6 that the results of the October 4 parliamentary elections had been cancelled, but gave no further details.

BShK spokeswoman Marina Grechannaya confirmed the information to RFE/RL.

The election results in Kyrgystan, a close ally of Russia which has long been a platform for geopolitical competition between Moscow, Washington, and neighboring Beijing, sparked a tumultuous night of protests and clashes in the capital, Bishkek, as demonstrators broke into the building housing the parliament and presidential offices and set free Almazbek Atambaev, a former president jailed on corruption charges.

The mayhem left one person dead and 590 injured.

The protests come in a country that has a history of political volatility -- two of its presidents have been toppled by revolts in the past 15 years.

Earlier on October 6, Jeenbekov described the actions of angry demonstrators who took over government, television, and security buildings as an attempt by some political forces to seize power illegally.

But he also said that he was ready to have the contested parliamentary elections results annulled and urged his opponents to end the unrest, as he had ordered security forces not to open fire.

Jeenbekov's location is unknown, but Tolgonai Stamalieva, his spokeswoman, said in a separate statement that he "controls the situation" and "is doing everything to restore law and order" in the Central Asian country.

The European Union on October 6 called on all political forces in Kyrgyzstan to "act within the framework of the constitution and to settle their disagreements peacefully."

"We look forward to new credible, transparent and inclusive elections, in line with Kyrgyzstan's international commitments and the democratic rights of its citizens, being organized," European Council spokesman Peter Stano said.

Opposition parties Ata-Meken (Fatherland), Butun (United) Kyrgyzstan, Zamandash (Contemporary), Social Democrats, Bir Bol (Stay United) Ordo (The Horde) , Respublika (Republic), and Reforma (Reform) established a Coordination Council on October 6 and elected Butun Kyrgyzstan leader Adakhan Madumarov its chairman.

RFE/RL correspondents reported from Bishkek that lawmakers split into two groups and are holding sessions in two separate sites in the Kyrgyz capital.

One group, led by parliament speaker Dastan Jumabekov, is holding a session at the Dostuk Hotel in Bishkek. Journalists were not allowed to attend the session.

Another group, consisting mainly of opposition parties, gathered in parliament itself with the meeting agenda unclear.

Earlier in the day, a leader of the Ata-Meken party, Janar Akaev, announced on October 6 that the parliament will hold an extraordinary session on October 7.

"We will elect a new speaker of the parliament and the people-supported new government," Akaev said.

Many in Kyrgyzstan say that by electing a new parliament speaker, the opposition may force Jeenbekov to resign or leave and then, in accordance with the constitution, the parliament speaker will be acting president.

The Coordination Council has also named Omurbek Suvanaliev to oversee the Security Council until the new government is named.

Suvanaliev told RFE/RL on October 6 that he did not have information about Jeenbekov's whereabouts.

The Coordination Council also named Kursan Asanov, who was fired from the post of deputy interior minister in 2019 for "the betrayal of the Kyrgyz police's interests" and is the target of three investigations, to be acting interior minister until the new government is formed.

In a sign of how unpredictable the situation remains, a fire broke out early on October 6 in the third floor of the building where Jeenbekov's offices and the chamber of the 120-member Jogorku Kenesh (the Supreme Council) are located. Black smoke poured from the windows as firefighters tried to put out the fire.

Photos posted earlier on social media show protesters in the president's offices on the seventh floor going from room to room, damaging some of the furnishings. In one of the rooms they removed a portrait of Jeenbekov from the wall and one protester kicked it out of its frame.

Another group of protesters seized the public television and radio company, and protesters also entered the building of the State Committee or National Security, facing no resistance.

Atambaev was freed from the committee's building, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported, and was later seen greeting supporters, according to AFP. Atambaev was sentenced in June to 11 years and two months in prison for corruption.

Former member of parliament Sadyr Japarov was also released and later addressed supporters on Bishkek's central Ala-Too Square. Former Prime Minister Sapar Isakov was released from a penal colony in the village of Moldovanovka.

A 19-year-old protester has been killed and 590 wounded in the overnight clashes, the government said.

Bishkek Mayor Aziz Surakmatov and the governors of several regions and districts resigned amid the protests.

The rapidly unfolding events came after large protest in Bishkek on October 5 calling for the annulment of the results of elections held the day before. Police used water cannons, rubber bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades to disperse the crowd, according to RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service.

Bishkek hospitals reported that they treated more than 120 patients who sustained injures during the violence.

The BShK announced on October 5 that the newly formed, pro-government Birimdik (Unity) party won 24.5 percent of the vote, followed by Mekenim Kyrgyzstan (My Homeland Kyrgyzstan) at 23.88 percent, and the Kyrgyzstan party at 8.76 percent.

The three parties are broadly considered pro-government or having an interest in maintaining the status quo. Both Birimdik and Mekenim Kyrgyzstan have supported deeper integration with the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union and close security ties with Russia.

Butun Kyrgyzstan, a nationalist party, was the only opposition party that reached the threshold, with 7.13 percent of the vote. The remaining 12 parties failed to receive the required number of votes. According to Eurasianet, those parties may end up accounting for around one-third of the ballots cast.

Smaller parties have accused Birimdik, widely considered loyal to Jeenbekov, of using administrative resources to promote its candidates, an allegation the party denies.

The elections were seen as a test of the country's close ties with Russia, with the Birimdik party touting ties with Russia as part of its campaign pitch.

With reporting by AFP, Eurasianet, AKIpress, 24.kg, and Reuters

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/building-housing-kyrgyz- parliament-president-s-office-catches-fire- after-day-of-protests/30877477.html

Copyright (c) 2020. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.



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