Kyrgyzstan president says ready to resign once new cabinet appointed

Protesters try to break into the government headquarters during a rally against the result of a parliamentary election in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan’s President Sooronbai Jeenbekov said on Friday he was ready to resign once a new cabinet was appointed, as a power vacuum in the country has prompted Russia to talk about its obligations to ensure stability.

Opposition groups, which mainly represent tribal and clan interests, made the first step towards consolidation, raising hopes of an end to a crisis which has threatened the country’s gold mining production.

Kyrgyzstan, which borders China and hosts a Russian military air base, has been gripped by unrest since opposition supporters seized government buildings on Tuesday.

Moscow has described the situation in Kyrgyzstan as “a mess and chaos”. It comes as the Kremlin’s power to shape the politics of countries in its former Soviet sphere of influence is simultaneously being challenged elsewhere, with fighting erupting between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and Moscow’s close ally Belarus engulfed in protests.

After forcing the cabinet to resign and the election commission to annul the results of Sunday’s parliamentary election, Kyrgyz opposition groups have so far failed to agree on who would lead a provisional government.

They appeared to make the first step towards consolidating on Friday. Two rival candidates for the premiership, Omurbek Babanov and Tilek Toktogaziyev, said they would work together, with the latter becoming a deputy prime minister, and were backed by four parties, local news website 24.kz reported.

The third candidate, Sadyr Zhaparov, backed by the Ata Zhurt party, had yet to comment on their move, and the positions of the remaining six parties that had denounced the election remained unclear.

Babanov said Jeenbekov, the president, could avoid impeachment – which would leave him vulnerable to subsequent prosecution – if he quit after signing off on a new cabinet line-up.

Parliamentary deputy Maksat Sabirov told Russia’s Interfax news agency that the legislature, which has the exclusive power to appoint a new cabinet, would try to convene on Friday, and that a number of parties planned rallies in the capital Bishkek.

The parliament’s previous attempts to gather a quorum have failed as some deputies said they feared for their safety.

Two political parties close to Jeenbekov swept Sunday’s parliamentary vote, but at least 11 other parties refused to accept the results and Western observers said the election was marred by credible allegations of vote-buying.

The nation of 6.5 million borders China and hosts a large Canadian-owned mining operation. Despite the state of uncertainty, with no legitimate leadership, veteran officials appeared to be in control of its security forces.

The State National Security Committee said on Friday neighbouring Uzbekistan had handed over to it three people who illegally crossed the border on Oct. 6, when the previous government fell. One of them was a district mayor, Tilek Matraimov, part of a politically influential family.

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