Kyrgyzstan’s parliamentary election boosts president’s clout

28 November 2021, 18:04

Kyrgyzstan Elections
Kyrgyzstan Elections. Picture: PA

Sadyr Zhaparov, who was elected in January following protests that ousted his predecessor, expects the ballot to further cement his grip on power.

Voters have backed parties supporting the country’s new president in Kyrgyzstan’s parliamentary election, according to early results, just over a year after a forceful change of government in the ex-Soviet Central Asian nation.

President Sadyr Zhaparov, who was elected in January following protests that ousted his predecessor, had expected Sunday’s ballot to further cement his grip on power.

With over 90% of precincts counted, three blocs all supporting Zhaparov emerged as the top vote-getters. Some opposition parties quickly challenged the results, accusing the authorities of vote-rigging.

Kyrgyzstan, a mountainous landlocked nation of 6.5 million people that borders China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, is a member of several Russia-dominated economic and security alliances. It hosts a Russian air base and depends on Moscow’s financial support.

Kyrgyzstan Elections
Soldiers vote at a polling station in Besh-Kungei during Kyrgyzstan’s parliamentary election (Vladimir Voronin/AP)

Zhaparov was serving an 11 1/2-year sentence on charges of abducting a regional governor amid a dispute over a gold mine when he was freed by stone-hurling supporters who challenged the results of the October 2020 parliamentary election.

Last year’s unrest marked the third violent ousting of the country’s leader in 15 years. Like uprisings that toppled presidents in 2005 and 2010, the 2020 turmoil was driven by the clan rivalries that shape the country’s politics.

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

In Sunday’s vote, 54 seats are filled by party lists and the remaining 36 are filled by single-ballot races.

With more than 90% of the precincts counted, the Ata-Zhurt (Homeland Kyrgyzstan), Ishenim (Faith) and Yntymak (Harmony) blocs were leading the race with about 17%, 14% and 11% of the vote on party lists respectively, according to the Central Election Commission. All three blocs have been loyal to Zhaparov.

Kyrgyzstan Elections
Kyrgyzstan’s President Sadyr Zhaparov and his wife, Aigul Asanbaeva, cast their ballots (Vladimir Voronin/AP)

A few other parties were trailing behind, and the two top opposition parties, Ata Meken (Fatherland) and the Social-Democratic Party, appeared to miss the 5% threshold to make it into parliament. Their leaders quickly cried foul, accusing the authorities of rigging the ballot using the automated vote-counting system, and demanded a manual recount.

Tensions had risen in the country ahead of the vote, with Zhaparov accusing his political foes of plotting a mutiny and warning that those who try to stage post-election riots would face prosecution.

“Some politicians are planning an armed coup,” Zhaparov said. “We know them all, and after the vote we will take harsh measures against them.”

Speaking to the nation after the vote, the Kyrgyz leader hailed the election as “honest and fair” and again threatened “harsh measures” against those who would “attempt to undermine peace and stability”.

On Friday, the national security agency said it had foiled a coup plot involving several “destructively minded” parliament members and former senior officials who were accused of recruiting about 1,000 supporters and stockpiling weapons and drugs to stage post-election riots.

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

The Interfax news agency said Bakytbek Zhetigenov, a parliament member from the Social-Democratic Party, was arrested on Sunday on charges of plotting to seize power by force.

By Press Association

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

Krisztina plays with her children on their balcony in Budapest, Hungary

In Pictures: How people in Budapest are keeping cool amidst heatwave

Vanessa Bryant, Kobe Bryant’s widow, leaves a federal courthouse in Los Angeles on Wednesday August 10 2022

Photographs of basketball star Kobe Bryant’s body were ‘shared for a laugh’

Courtney Clenney has been arrested on suspicion of murder

Social media model Courtney Clenney arrested in Hawaii on suspicion of murder

Virus Outbreak North Korea

Kim Jong Un ‘suffered fever’ during North Korea’s Covid wave, says his sister

Russia Ukraine War

Satellite images show Crimea airbase damaged after apparent Ukrainian attack

The Spanish government has limited air conditioning and heating

Spain cracks down on air conditioning and heating in bid to save energy

Former US national security adviser John Bolton

Iranian operative charged in plot to murder Trump security adviser John Bolton

A resident sits on the sea wall as smoke rises in the background from a deadly fire at a large oil storage facility in Matanzas, Cuba

Firefighters subdue deadly blaze at key oil facility in Cuba

Rising smoke can be seen from the beach at Saky after explosions were heard from the direction of a Russian military airbase near Novofedorivka, Crimea

Ukraine says nine Russian warplanes were destroyed in Crimea blasts

The river Rhine is pictured with low water in Cologne, Germany

Fears mount that water levels in Rhine river could fall below critical mark

Former US president Donald Trump gestures as he departs Trump Tower on Wednesday August 10 2022 in New York

Donald Trump says he took the fifth amendment in New York investigation

Former US president Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower, late on Tuesday August 9 2022, in New York

Donald Trump arrives to give evidence in New York investigation

Taiwan’s military conducts artillery live-fire drills at Fangshan township in Pingtung, southern Taiwan, Tuesday, August 9, 2022

China appears to wind down threatening war games near Taiwan

People line up to enter an H&M shop and buy items on sale in the Aviapark shopping centre in Moscow, Russia, on Tuesday August 9 2022

Russians buy last goods from H&M and Ikea as stores wind down

Tom Daley blames 'legacy of colonialism' for homophobia in the Commonwealth

Tom Daley blames British Empire's legacy of colonialism' for homophobic laws in Commonwealth nations

France Whale in Seine

Beluga whale stranded in French river dies, authorities say