Kyrgyzstan election results in political chaos

Kyrgyzstan election
Sooronbay Jeenbekov has now resigned as President of Kyrgyzstan. Source: Kremlin.ru (via. Wikimedia Commons)
The recent election held in Kyrgyzstan was annulled after widespread claims of vote-rigging. Political chaos has unfolded in the aftermath

By Tom Kingsbury | Political Editor

Update: President Jeenbekov has now resigned, and Sadyr Japarov, who was in jail at the begininng of October for kidnapping a government official, is now Kyrgyzstan’s Prime Minister and President, until presidential elections are held in 2021.

A state of emergency has been called as political chaos unfolds in the Central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan. Protesters have clashed with police, stormed parliament, and freed politicians from jail. One person has died and more than 1,200 have been injured. A recent election result has been annulled and Kyrgyzstan’s Prime Minister resigned, as mob rule spreads.

Instability reigns in the country which overthrew two previous presidents, in the 2005 Tulip Revolution and 2010 April Revolution.

How did it start?

On October 4, an Kyrgyzstan held an election. The result was a resounding win for incumbent President Sooronbay Jeenbekov.

However, widespread allegations of mass vote rigging undermined the legitimacy of the election in many people’s eyes. International monitors said claims of vote rigging were “credible”, with evidence of electoral interference much more clear than other recent elections.

Out of the 16 parties contesting the election, only four were said to have passed the electoral threshold to enter parliament. Three of the four have ties to President Jeenbekov.

The day after the election, 12 opposition parties made a joint declaration that they would not recognise the results of the vote.

Following this, protests began near the parliamentary buildings in Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek. The protests were peaceful, but a smaller group broke into the parliamentary building, known as the White House.

In response to this police began dispersing crowds,  using water cannons, tear gas and stun grenades.

Protesters also released prisoners, including ex-president Almazbek Atambayev, who was jailed for corruption offenses, and Sadyr Japarov, a nationalist politician charged with taking a government official hostage. 

What happened in the aftermath?

Following the protests electoral authorities annulled the election result. Kyrgyzstan’s Prime Minister quit the position, and Sadyr Japarov, who was freed from prison by protesters, was appointed PM.

A power vacuum began, as mob rule spread; groups of people began entering government offices and appointing their leaders into official positions, forcing government representatives to resign.

In many cases the individual would be replaced soon after by another person, backed by an even bigger group of people.

A state of emergency was called, enforcing a curfew and travel restrictions, as well as allowing the army to deploy soldiers in Bishkek. The state of emergency is in place officially until October 21.

Rival protesters are clashing with each other and the police, each backing different political leaders.

One of President Jeenbekov’s political adversaries, ex-PM Atambayev, has been rearrested after being freed, and Jeenbekov refused to approve the appointment of Sadyr Japarov as PM, asking parliament to vote again.

“If things continue like now, we will never reach a consensus”, said Taalay Nasirdinov, a member of the Reform Party. “I am scared of the worst-case scenario – a civil war. I am worried that we may lose our country.”

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