Kyrgyzstan President resigns in bid to avoid bloodshed

Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov resigned on Thursday after days of unrest following a disputed election, saying he wanted to prevent clashes between security forces and protesters who have demanded his removal from office.

BISHKEK • Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov resigned yesterday after days of unrest following a disputed election, saying he wanted to prevent clashes between security forces and protesters who have demanded his removal from office.

He becomes the third president of the small Central Asian nation since 2005 to be toppled in a popular uprising.

Kyrgyzstan, a Russian ally that borders China, has been in turmoil since the Oct 4 parliamentary election, which the opposition rejected after Mr Jeenbekov's allies were declared the winners.

In a statement, Mr Jeenbekov said he feared violence might break out if protesters carry out a threat to march on his compound.

"The military and security forces will be obliged to use their weapons to protect the state residence. Blood will be inevitably shed. I urge both sides not to fall for provocations," he said.

"I do not want to go down in Kyrgyzstan's history as a president who shed blood and shot at his own citizens."

After the election, opposition supporters took to the streets and seized government buildings, prompting the authorities to annul the vote.

Mr Jeenbekov announced last week that he would resign, but this week he delayed his exit, saying he would stay in office until a new election was held.

On Wednesday, Mr Jeenbekov accepted Parliament's choice of Mr Sadyr Japarov - a nationalist whose supporters freed him from prison last week - for prime minister. Mr Japarov and his followers have demanded Mr Jeenbekov leave office.

Following Mr Jeenbekov's resignation, Parliament Speaker Kanatbek Isayev would assume presidential powers. Should he also resign, the powers would transfer to Mr Japarov.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 16, 2020, with the headline 'Kyrgyzstan President resigns in bid to avoid bloodshed'. Print Edition | Subscribe