Kyrgyz President quits; Opposition leader freed from jail takes over power

Sooronbay Jeenbekov - The News Today-TNT

ISLAMABAD: President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Jeenbekov has resigned, leaving power in the hands of a nationalist rival whose supporters freed him from jail last week.

The swift transition appears to put an end to more than a week of turmoil and unrest that followed a disputed election.

Sadyr Zhaparov, 51, who was named prime minister this week, told cheering supporters that he had taken on the powers of the presidency, following the resignation of Jeenbekov and of the parliament speaker, who would otherwise have been next in line.

“Today, (speaker Kanatbek) Isayev signed a resignation letter. All presidential powers have fully passed to me today,” Japarov said.

Hours earlier, Jeenbekov became the third president of the small Central Asian nation since 2005 to be toppled in a popular uprising.

Jeenbekov stated that he is resigning to prevent violence, which he said would have been inevitable if protesters carried out a threat to march on his compound.

“I do not want to go down in Kyrgyzstan’s history as a president who shed blood and shot at his own citizens,” he said.

Kyrgyzstan’s constitution requires a new election for president within three months. The rules appear to bar Zhaparov, as interim president, from standing again.

Kyrgyzstan has been in turmoil since October 4 parliamentary vote, which the opposition rejected after Jeenbekov’s allies were declared the winners.

Since the election, opposition supporters have taken to the streets and seized government buildings, prompting the authorities to annul the vote.

Zhaparov who was serving a sentence for attempting to kidnap another politician during unrest in 2013, was freed from prison by his supporters last week. A judge then threw out his conviction, and parliamentary factions picked him to be premier.

Last week, Jeenbekov announced that he had planned to resign, but later said he would stay in office until a new election was held. Zhaparov rejected the delay and pressured him to resign immediately. (With input from INP)

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