Kyrgyzstan President Jeenbekov resigns amid unrest over disputed elections

Protesters react waving Kyrgyz national flags as they wait for Kyrgyz Prime Minister Sadyr Zhaparov speech in front of the government building in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. Kyrgyzstan's embattled president has discussed his possible resignation with his newly appointed prime minister in a bid to end the political crisis in the Central Asian country after a disputed parliamentary election. President Sooronbai Jeenbekov held talks with Prime Minister Sadyr Zhaparov a day after refusing to appoint him to the post over concerns whether parliament could legitimately nominate him. (AP Photo/Vladimir Voronin)
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Kyrgyzstan’s President Sooronbay Jeenbekov resigned on Thursday, saying he wanted to bring an end to the crisis sparked by disputed parliamentary elections earlier this month.

Protests had erupted after the October 4 election was won by parties loyal to Jeenbekov, with opponents disputing the results, alleging vote-buying. The vote was later annulled but this did not quell the tensions.

“I am not clinging to power. I do not want to go down in the history of Kyrgyzstan as a president who allowed bloodshed and shooting on its people. I have taken the decision to resign,” Jeenbekov said in a statement released by his office.

More than 1,200 people were injured and one killed during the clashes in the wake of the elections between protesters and police.

The move came as supporters of Prime Minister Sadyr Japarov — who was serving jail time for hostage-taking only last week — gathered once more Thursday to demand Jeenbekov’s immediate resignation.

“The current situation is close to a two-sided conflict. On the one hand, the protesters, on the other, the law enforcement agencies,” Jeenbekov said in the statement.

“Military personnel and law enforcement agencies are obliged to use weapons to protect the residence of the head of state. In this case, blood will be shed. It is inevitable. I urge both sides not to succumb to provocations.”

‘Return to peaceful life’

The president had on Wednesday finally accepted the nomination of Japarov as prime minister, in a move seen as the first step towards calming the crisis. But Japarov insisted that the president should step down.

Jeenbekov called on Japarov and other politicians “to withdraw their supporters from the capital of the country so the people of Bishkek (can) return to a peaceful life.”

Jeenbekov had previously pledged to resign after overseeing fresh parliamentary elections in the country. But Japarov and his supporters pressed for an immediate resignation.

Kyrgyzstan has been dogged by political volatility for much of its three decades of independence.

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