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Sooronbay Jeenbekov, the president of Kyrgyzstan ‘ready to resign’ amid protest ‘chaos’

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Sooronbay Jeenbekov, the president of Kyrgyzstan, said he would leave his post once a new Cabinet has been appointed. Russia described the situation in the country as “chaos” as police and protesters clash.

Kyrgyzstan’s president, Sooronbay Jeenbekov, said Friday he was ready to resign once a new Cabinet was appointed. The Central Asian country has been in a state of unrest since opposition supporters seized government buildings on Tuesday following Sunday’s parliamentary elections, which were later annulled.

In the ensuing protests, at least one person has died and hundreds have been injured.

Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov wearing a face mask casts his ballot at a polling station during parliamentary election in Bishkek on October 4, 2020, amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Vladimir VORONIN / POOL / AFP)

“We need to get the situation back to the rule of law as soon as possible. After legitimate executive authorities have been approved and we are back on the path of lawfulness, I am ready to leave the post of president of the Kyrgyz Republic,” said Jeenbekov on Friday morning.

The president’s statement is an abrupt U-turn, after days of rival politicians claiming leadership positions. Hours earlier, Jeenbekov denied claims he may be planning to resign. He has made no public appearances since Monday.

Replacement remains murky

Russia called on security forces earlier in the week to restore order, describing the situation in the former Soviet republic as “chaos.” Borders were largely closed on Thursday following clashes between police and protesters.

It is unclear which candidate or party would replace Jeenbekov.  After forcing the Cabinet to resign and the election commission to annul the results of Sunday’s parliamentary election that triggered the protests, opposition groups have so far failed to agree on who would lead a provisional government.

Kyrgyzstan’s outgoing parliament has also not convened or appointed one of at least three interim premier candidates, with some MPs saying they feared for their safety.

Two political parties close to Jeenbekov swept Sunday’s parliamentary vote, but at least 11 other parties refused to accept the results. Observers said the election was marred by credible allegations of vote-buying.

If Jeenbekov were to resign, he would become the third leader to be felled by political unrest after uprisings unseated authoritarian presidents in 2005 and 2010.

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