Kyrgyzstan’s parliamentary vote to boost president’s clout

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Kyrgyzstan voters cast their vote on Sunday in a parliamentary election that comes just a year after a forced change of government in the former Soviet Central Asian nation.

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President Sadir Zhaparov, who was elected in January following protests that ousted his predecessor, hopes the ballot will further cement his grip on power.

Kyrgyzstan, a country of 6.5 million that borders China, is a member of Russia-dominated economic and security alliances. It hosts a Russian airport and relies on financial support from Moscow.


Zaparov was serving an 11 1/2-year sentence for kidnapping a regional governor amid a dispute over a gold mine to be freed by stone-pelting supporters challenging the results of the October 2020 parliamentary election.

Last year’s unrest marked the third violent expulsion of the country’s leader in 15 years. Like previous rebellions that toppled presidents in 2005 and 2010, the turmoil of 2020 was fueled by clan rivalry shaping the country’s politics.

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Following his election, Zaparov pushed for a referendum that approved a new constitution that significantly increased the president’s powers at the expense of parliament. It reduced the size of the country’s parliament from 120 to 90 and gave the president the power to appoint judges and heads of law enforcement agencies.

Tensions were rising in the country ahead of the vote, with Zhaprov accusing his political enemies of plotting a rebellion and warning that those who try to perpetrate post-election riots will be prosecuted.

Zhaprov said, “Some politicians are planning an armed coup. We know them all, and after voting we will take strong action against them. Those who take to the streets without reason will face severe punishment.”

On Friday, the National Security Agency said it had foiled a coup plot involving several “disastrously minded” members of parliament and former senior officials, who were accused of recruiting nearly 1,000 supporters and using weapons to fuel the post-election riots. and was accused of stockpiling drugs.

On Saturday, Kyrgyz authorities announced the detention of four representatives of political parties on charges of trying to buy votes.

Credit: / Kyrgyzstan

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