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Kyrgyzstan’s prime minister steps down to run in unpredictable election

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Kyrgyzstan’s prime minister steps down to run in unpredictable election

Kyrgyzstan's prime minister Sooronbay Jeenbekov will step down today
Photo: Ulan Asanaliev/RFE-RL
Photo: Ulan Asanaliev/RFE-RL

Current Kyrgyz Prime Minister Sooronbai Jeenbekov will step down today to begin his presidential campaign. The only competitive race among Central Asia’s strong-man kleptocracies, the November 19 vote will feature six major parties and 35 candidates.

Jeenbekov is loyal to the current administration, whose wide-spread corruption may have lost them public trust and their 63% of the 2011 election’s votes.

Incumbent President Amalbek Atambayev, legally independent from his former Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan (SPDK) since his election, will step down on December 1. But corruption charges brought against one of the country’s opposition leaders—who was sentenced to four years in jail last week—suggest Mr Atambayev is attempting to influence the race in favour of his prime minister.

The president himself is suspected of syphoning off $1.8 billion from China’s One Belt, One Road infrastructure investment program. As anti-corruption protests ousted two former Kyrgyz presidents in 2005 and 2010, regional investors fear popular instability if the SDPK maintains power in October’s vote.

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