Kyrgyz lawmakers vote to disband government

Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov and Prime Minister Sapar Isakov pray during a commemoration ceremon at the Ata-Beyit memorial complex in the village of Chon-Tash, south of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on April 7, 2018.
Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov and Prime Minister Sapar Isakov pray during a commemoration ceremon at the Ata-Beyit memorial complex in the village of Chon-Tash, south of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on April 7, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

BISHKEK, KYRGYZSTAN (AFP) - Kyrgyzstan on Thursday (April 19) was set to jettison its 29th prime minister in less than three decades of independence as new President Sooronbai Jeenbekov looks to cement control over the Central Asian country.

Lawmakers voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to disband the government of Prime Minister Sapar Isakov, a 40-year-old technocrat viewed as a loyalist of the country's former leader, Mr Almazbek Atambayev.

A total of 101 legislators voted for the move, with just five against. The vote indicates broad parliamentary support for Mr Jeenbekov, 59, who is very likely to sign off on the government's dissolution and is expected to play a key role in determining the next premier.

Mr Jeenbekov came to power in a bitterly fought presidential election last year while enjoying strong support from Mr Atambayev, 61, who was limited to a single term in office by the Constitution.

But tensions have since emerged between the pair after Mr Atambayev criticised appointments made by Mr Jeenbekov and called for the new President's brother, Asylbek, to relinquish his seat in Parliament in a public appearance last month.

Earlier this month, Mr Jeenbekov fired key Atambayev allies in the national security service and initiated the sacking of the country's state prosecutor, but has yet to make his own appointments.

Known since his time as an opposition leader for a fiery and often vulgar public speaking style, Mr Atambayev moved the impoverished ex-Soviet country away from the West and closer to traditional ally Russia while in office.

On March 31, he was elected chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan that has dominated Kyrgyz politics since a violent revolution ousted authoritarian leader Kurmanbek Bakiyev in 2010, despite initially pledging to leave politics.