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Presidential Election, 15 October 2017

Atambaye's Social Democratic party nominated Kyrgyzstan's current prime minister, Sooronbai Jeenbekov, as its candidate for the 15 October 2017 election. The sitting president, Almazbek Atambayev, is not eligible to run again because he has completed the sole six year term he is allowed by the Kyrgyz constitution. Jeenbekov has said the future president should be a person "capable of continuing" the policies of Atambaev, who has publicly called Jeenbekov a "friend" and said Jeenbekov's government was "the best" cabinet during his presidency. In a country where regional associations play a key role in politics, Jeenbekov is among a group of influential politicians from the southern provinces.

A former prime minister and wealthy businessman, 47-year-old Omurbek Babanov is a top contender according to polls. Babanov is the billionaire leader of the conservative-nationalist Respublika-Ata Zhurt party. In 2010, Babanov founded the pro-business Respublika Party, which has since merged with Ata Jurt to form Kyrgyzstan's second-largest faction in parliament It opposed to the left-wing Social Democratic Party (SDPK) that is the leader of the Kyrgyz Parliament's majority coalition. These two parties control 66 of the 120 seats in the Kyrgyz Parliament, with the other 54 controlled by four other parties.

A court in Kyrgyzstan sentenced opposition politician Omurbek Tekebayev to eight years in prison for corruption and fraud on 16 August 2017, two months ahead of a presidential election in which he planned to run. The Central Asian republic's pro-Russian president, Almazbek Atambayev, is barred from running in the October 15 election and is backing an ally. Some of his critics now accuse him of seeking to retain political power after October by taking on the role of prime minister, a switch that President Vladimir Putin engineered in Russia in 2008. Tekebayev is one of Atambayev most outspoken critics.

Kyrgyzstan formally accused larger neighbor Kazakhstan of interfering in their upcoming October presidential election, saying that Astana has publicly favored right-wing challenger Omurbek Babanov. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyzstan summoned Rymtai Karibzhanov, Kazakhstan's chief diplomat to Bishkek, and handed him a notice of official protest 23 September 2017. Bishkek has accused Astana of interfering in their election when Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev met with Babanov. "Despite the fact that the leader of friendly Kazakhstan said that he does not interfere in the internal affairs of Kyrgyzstan, his words clearly reflect the preference of the Kazakh side regarding the future president of the Kyrgyz Republic," the note said.

This was an historic vote; the first “regular” transition of power from a sitting president who has completed a constitutionally defined term of office to an elected successor. There are 11 candidates registered, including one woman candidate and three former prime ministers. Polls appear to show two clear front-runners in what could shape up to be a rare competitive vote in post-Soviet Central Asia.

The president is elected for a six-year term by direct universal suffrage on the basis of an absolute majority. A candidate that gets more than one-half of the votes cast in the first round is considered elected. There are no turnout requirements for the validity of an election. If no candidate receives the required majority, a run-off takes place between the two candidates with the most votes.

Former Prime Minister Sooronbai Jeenbekov won the 15 October 2017 presidential election. The central election commission said that Jeenbekov won about 55 percent of the vote, with 98 percent of the polls counted. He defeated 10 other candidates, including main opposition leader Omurbek Babanov. Jeenbekov said he will do all he can to justify the trust the people have placed in him. He noted that his task is to maintain past achievements and strengthen the economy.

President Sooronbai Jeenbekov sacked Sapar Isakov's government on 19 April 2018, hours after lawmakers passed a no-confidence motion in the strongest sign of a power struggle between Jeenbekov and his predecessor, Atambaev. The confidence vote was initiated by opposition lawmakers and followed criticism of the cabinet's 2017 annual report by opposition parties. But the ruling coalition led by Atambaev's Social Democratic party abruptly withdrew its backing for Isakov, and 101 of 112 present in the 120-seat chamber voted against him.

The Kyrgyz parliament confirmed Mukhammedkalyi Abylgaziev as the Central Asian country’s new prime minister, a day after an ally of former President Almazbek Atambaev was sacked. The new cabinet proposed by Abylgaziev and approved by parliament on 20 April 2018 includes a mix of newcomers and holdovers from the previous government led by Isakov.

Kyrgyzstan had been struggling with a sluggish economy and high unemployment. Many young people have been leaving the country for Syria to join the Islamic State militants. Kyrgyzstan, a country of 6 million that hosts a Russian military base, is widely seen as the most democratic but also the most politically volatile of the five Central Asian states that gained independence in the Soviet breakup of 1991. Antigovernment protests toppled presidents in 2005 and 2010.

Parliament in June 2019 stripped Atambayev of his immunity as a former president and the state prosecutor brought corruption charges against him. Atambayev ignored three police summonses for questioning in connection with the release of a well-known underworld figure during his presidency. The state prosecutor said that Atambayev figured in a total of five criminal cases. Critics said the investigations were politically motivated.

Kyrgyzstan's former president was detained in a major security operation 08 August 2019, a day after clashes between his supporters and law enforcement left one dead and dozens injured. The Central Asian state, which had seen two revolutions in less than two decades, was in a crisis amid a standoff between ex-leader Almazbek Atambayev and his protege-turned-foe President Sooronbai Jeenbekov. Atambayev was detained by security services at his residence in the village of Koi-Tash near the capital Bishkek, after the second raid in two days on the compound. He was held at the building of the State National Security Service (GKNB) while hundreds of his supporters gathered in central Bishkek and blocked a major thoroughfare. The health ministry said that 98 people required treatment as a result of the clashes on both days.

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Page last modified: 26-09-2021 14:23:06 ZULU