Kyrgyzstan presidential election to be held today

Kyrgyzstanis will head to the polls today for the country’s eighth presidential election. The election was brought forward following the

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Photo: Vyacheslav Oseledko/ AFP

Kyrgyzstanis will head to the polls today for the country’s eighth presidential election.

The election was brought forward following the resignation of former president Sooronbay Jeenbekov, prompted by widespread vote-buying concerns over the October 2020 parliamentary elections that triggered protests in the country’s capital, Bishkek.

Seventeen candidates will compete in the election, which has been billed both as a presidential vote and a de facto referendum on whether Kyrgyzstan’s political system should remain a parliamentary republic or revert to a presidential republic. With a national profile bolstered by his recent stint as interim president, it is expected that Sadyr Japarov will comfortably win the election, possibly without the need for a second round of voting.

It remains to be seen whether Japarov’s anti-corruption rhetoric will lead to genuine change or is more of a populist ploy to secure the presidency. His proposed constitutional reforms call for the establishment of a “People’s Kurultai” to give citizens more of a say in policy matters, but they would simultaneously consolidate presidential power and expand presidential term limits. Either way, if, as expected, Japarov wins, he will likely become the most powerful Kyrgyz president since the 2010 revolution.

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