Unrest in Kyrgyzstan; govt buildings seized; ex-leader freed

PTI, Oct 6, 2020, 4:09 PM IST

Moscow: Opposition supporters in Kyrgyzstan have seized several government buildings in the country’s capital, freed the ex-president from jail and announced plans to oust the president and form a new government.

President Sooronbai Jeenbekov accused “certain political forces” of trying to “illegally seize power” in the country in a statement on Tuesday morning and urged the opposition to get people off the streets.

Mass protests in the capital, Bishkek, and other cities broke out after the authorities announced early results of Sunday’s parliamentary election. They attributed the majority of votes to two parties with ties to the ruling elites, amid reports of vote-buying and other violations.

Supporters of a dozen opposition parties took to the streets on Monday, demanding the cancellation of the vote and a new election.

Police moved to disperse the crowds with water cannons, tear gas and flashbang grenades; 590 people sustained injuries in clashes with police and one person died, the Interfax news agency reported, citing Kyrgyzstan’s Health Ministry.

The violent crackdown failed to curb the unrest, and during the night the protesters broke into the government complex that houses both the parliament and the presidential office.

Interfax reported that opposition supporters also took control of Bishkek’s City Hall.

Another group of protesters went to Kyrgyzstan’s State Committee of National Security, demanding to free former President Almazbek Atambayev, who was convicted on corruption charges earlier this year and sentenced to 11 years and two months in prison.

Security officers released Atambayev after negotiations with the protesters.

Members of several opposition parties announced plans to oust Jeenbekov and create a new government.

“We intend to seek the dismissal of Sooronbai Jeenbekov from his post,” Maksat Mamytkanov, a member of the Chon Kazat party, told Interfax on Tuesday, adding that opposition parties also insist on adopting a new constitution.

Zhanar Akayev of the Ata Meken opposition party was quoted by the Kyrgyz service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty as saying that “a new prime minister and the people’s government need to be appointed,” and then “a popular election” needs to be held.

Jeenbekov on Tuesday urged leaders of opposition parties to “calm their supporters down and take them away” from the streets.

“I proposed to the Central Election Commission to thoroughly investigate the violations (reported during the parliamentary election) and, if needed, cancel the results of the vote,” the Kyrgyz president said in a statement.

“I call on all (political) forces to put the fate of the country above their political ambitions and return to (acting) within the law,” Jeenbekov said.

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