Kyrgyz president ‘ready to resign’ as unrest continues

Kyrgyz president ‘ready to resign’ as unrest continues

Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov has offered to resign following an uprising in the wake of disputed elections that saw pro-government parties cornering almost all the seats in parliament.

The disputed vote has sparked a fresh crisis in the volatile Central Asian country, triggering protests and unrest that have left at least one person dead and hundreds injured. The results of the Sunday’s elections have since been annulled but the protests have continued.

The protests have forced mass resignations that included the prime minister, the cabinet and several governors and mayors leaving a political vacuum.

Jeenbekov, who has rules Kyrgyzstan since 2017, said in an address published on the presidential website he could resign once a date for fresh elections had been set and changes in government had been confirmed by parliament and his office.

“We need to get the situation back to the rule of law as soon as possible. After legitimate executive authorities have been approved and we are back on the path of lawfulness, I am ready to leave the post of President of the Kyrgyz Republic.”

The statement comes just hours after Jeenbekov’s press chief said the president’s resignation was not “under question” in talks he was holding with national political leaders.

Jeenbekov has made no public appearances since the unrest broke out Monday.

Opposition parties claim Sunday’s election was rigged by significant vote-buying in favour of parties close to Jeenbekov.

The results of the ballot were annulled on Tuesday, but that has done little to ease tensions as rival politicians and their supporters press claims to leadership posts and state institutions are in chaos.

Omurbek Suvanaliyev, who has claimed the title of national security chief in the aftermath of clashes between police and protesters, told Russian news agency Interfax that national borders had been closed.

The border service confirmed the closure to the AFP news agency.

Suvanaliyev is one of several politicians who claimed titles after a rally against election results turned violent and protesters seized the main seat of government.

Meanwhile, Russia has described the current situation as “chaotic”. The country, which has an airbase in Kyrgyzstan, said it had obligations under an existing security treaty to prevent the situation from totally breaking down.

“This is an incredible turnaround of events here,” Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, reporting from the capital Bishkek, said.

“Seems like [Russian President] Vladimir Putin is very concerned about how the situation here could deteriorate. And it seems as if he’s reigned Jeenbekov in,” he said.

“Let’s not forget Russia has big interests here in Kyrgyzstan – geo-politically and in terms of investments.

“This is a country that buys Russian gas, Russian infrastructure. It is all maintained by Russia. Russia has a big military base here.”

‘Legitimise ongoing appointments’

Jeenbekov said that he wanted to “legitimise ongoing appointments” before his potential resignation.

He also called on law enforcement to ensure legislators, whose building is not under state control, are able to hold a session to approve the changes.

Prime Minister Kubatbek Boronov was reported to have resigned on Tuesday and populist politician Sadyr Japarov positioned himself as his replacement after he was released from jail by supporters following the violence on Monday.

Japarov’s candidacy was approved by a majority of legislators in an extraordinary session in a three-star hotel after the parliament building was seized by protesters, the parliamentary press service said.