Kyrgyzstan: President Sooronbay Jeenbekov steps down
Kyrgyzstan’s president Sooronbay Jeenbekov announced his resignation in a desire to avoid further violence. The prime minister, Sadyr Japarov, declared himself interim president.
This article was originally published on Novastan’s French version.
In a televised address, the president of Kyrgyzstan, Sooronbay Jeenbekov, announced he was stepping down, 10 days after the country’s parliamentary elections triggered a third revolution. He is the third president of Kyrgyzstan to step down part way through a term, after Askar Akayev in 2005 and Kurmanbek Bakiyev in 2010.
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« I do not want to go down in Kyrgyzstan’s history as a president who spilled blood and shot at his own citizens. I therefore have decided to resign, » Sooronbay Jeenbekov declared, according to the transcription of his speech published by his press office.“Unfortunately, aggression is not subsiding, the calls for my immediate resignation continue,” he noted, referring among others to the supporters of the prime minister, Sadyr Japarov.
Sadyr Japarov was appointed prime minister by the Parliament on 14 October, after two attempts at votes that did not reach quorum, as reported by the Kyrgyz media Kaktus. He had also declared his support for the president’s immediate resignation. He met with Sooronbay Jeenbekov on 10 and 14 October to discuss the latter’s stepping down, but, according to Kyrgyz media Kloop.kg, did not turn up at a subsequent meeting on 15 October.
Pressure from Sadyr Japarov?
However, in an interview published by Kaktus, Felix Kulov, a politician close to Sooronbay Jeenbekov, said Sadyr Japarov had met with the former president shortly before his resignation, accompanied by his political ally Kamchybek Tashiyev.
According to Felix Kulov, the president only announced he was stepping down after this meeting: “Earlier, there was no question of stepping down. Jeenbekov had declared he would not step down. He had said he would speak to the people publicly and that he would explain why he needed to continue working.” Felix Kulov believes the president must have had « very good reasons” to step down so suddenly.
Sadyr Japarov declares himself acting president
According to the Constitution of Kyrgyzstan, the role of president should have gone to the speaker of Parliament until voters elected a new head of state. In this case, the acting president would have been Kanatbek Isayev, the leader of the “Kyrgyzstan” party, who was elected speaker on 14 October. He had called on Sooronbay Jeenbekov not to resign before the country could hold new parliamentary elections, Kaktus reports.
After hesitating for a few hours, Kanatbek Isayev refused to become interim president, as reported by the Kyrgyz news agency 24.kg. “Given the current sociopolitical situation and very important tasks faced by the legislative branch to stabilise the situation in the country, I have decided to concentrate my efforts directly on working in the Jogorku Kenesh [Kyrgyzstan’s parliament]. In addition, as the mandate of the sixth  of Parliament is coming to an end, I consider it impossible for me to exercise the powers of president,” he declared in a statement.
Next in line as interim president is the prime minister. Less than 15 minutes after Kanatbek Isayev’s statement, Sadyr Japarov told his supporters he was acting president, 24.kg reports. He thus holds all of the country’s executive power.
This announcement arrives as the parliament plans to meet on the morning of 16 October for an extraordinary session about the president’s resignation.
No new elections in sight
Meanwhile, no dates have been set for new elections, whether presidential or legislative. According to the first paragraph of article 68 of the Constitution, however, “early presidential elections are conducted within three months period since the termination of powers of the President.”
As the reseacher Asel Doolotkeldieva explains on Twitter, the president’s resignation has sparked fears of the cancellation of the parliamentary elections, leading the country towards a full presidential system once again.
“I don’t want to speculate over these fears,” she adds. “After all, the 5th October events showed how ordinary citizens disagreed with the electoral frauds and old elites. Society is strong and it won’t be so easy to carry out these changes.