Parliamentary vote in Kyrgyzstan to enhance the influence of the president

Parliamentary vote in Kyrgyzstan to enhance the influence of the president

Moscow – Voters in Kyrgyzstan cast their ballots in a parliamentary election on Sunday that comes just over a year after a strong change of government in the former Soviet Central Asian nation.

President Sadir Zabrov, who was elected in January after protests that toppled his predecessor, expect the vote to strengthen his grip on power.

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

Zabarov was serving an 11-and-a-half year prison sentence for kidnapping a regional governor amid a gold mine dispute when he was released by stone-throwing supporters who challenged the results of the October 2020 parliamentary elections.

Last year’s unrest was the leader’s third violent ouster in the country in 15 years. Like previous uprisings that toppled presidents in 2005 and 2010, the turmoil of 2020 has been driven by clan rivalries that have shaped the country’s politics.

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

Tensions escalated in the country ahead of the vote, with Zabarov accusing his political opponents of plotting a rebellion and warning that those trying to organize post-election riots would face prosecution.

“Some politicians are plotting an armed coup… We know them all and after the vote we will take tough measures against them. People who take to the streets for no reason will face severe punishment,” Zabrov said.

The National Security Agency said on Friday it had thwarted a coup plot involving several “subversive minds” members of parliament and former senior officials who were accused of recruiting some 1,000 supporters and stockpiling weapons and drugs for post-election riots.

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

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