Kyrgyz President Declares State Of Emergency Amid Protests
People protest during a rally against the results of a parliamentary vote in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020. Large crowds of people have gathered in the center of Kyrgyzstan's capital to protest against the results of a parliamentary election, early results of which gave the majority of seats to two parties with ties to the ruling elites amid allegations of vote buying. (AP Photo/Vladimir Voronin)
MOSCOW: The embattled president of Kyrgyzstan ordered a state of emergency Friday in the capital in a bid to end the political turmoil sparked by a disputed parliamentary election.
President Sooronbai Jeenbekov decreed that the measure starting from 8 p.m. Friday through 8 a.m. Oct. 21 could include a curfew and travel restrictions. He also ordered the military to deploy troops to Bishkek to enforce it.
Jeenbekov has faced calls to step down from hundreds of protesters who stormed government buildings the night after Sunday’s parliamentary vote was reportedly swept by pro-government parties. The demonstrators also freed former President Almazbek Atambayev, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison in June on charges of corruption and abuse of office that he and his supporters described as a political vendetta by Jeenbekov.
The turmoil marks a third time in 15 years when protesters have moved to topple a government in Kyrgyztsan. Like in the uprisings that ousted Kyrgyz presidents in 2005 and 2010, the current protests have been driven by clan rivalries that play a key role in the Central Asian nations politics.
After an initial attempt to break up protesters immediately after the vote, police have pulled back and refrained from intervening with the demonstrations. It remained unclear whether the police and the military would follow Jeenbekov’s orders.
Under pressure from protesters, the Central Election Commission has overturned the parliamentary vote results and protest leaders moved quickly to form a new government. An emergency parliament session on Tuesday named lawmaker Sadyr Zhaparov as a new prime minister, but the move was immediately contested by other protest groups, plunging the country into chaos.
Atambayev spoke to demonstrators who flooded the central Bishkek on Friday, urging them to refrain from violence.
I’m against using force, everything should be done by peaceful means, he said.
Soon after he spoke, supporters of Zhaparov assailed Atambayev’s supporters, hurling stones and bottles.
Jeenbekov has used infighting between his foes to dig in. He said Thursday he may consider stepping down, but only after the political situation stabilizes.
The country of 6.5 million, one of the poorest to emerge from the former Soviet Union, is strategically located on the border with China and once was home to a U.S. air base used for refueling and logistics for the war in Afghanistan. Kyrgyzstan also hosts a Russian air base and maintains close ties with Moscow.
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