A populist politician and a convicted kidnapper won a landslide victory Sunday in a snap presidential election in Kyrgyzstan sparked by a popular uprising against the previous government.
The winning candidate, Sadir Jabarov, received 80% of the vote, according to the Central Electoral Commission of the mountainous nation, the only democracy in Central Asia. More than 80 percent of voters supported Mr. Jabarov’s proposal to redistribute political power away from parliament and in the hands of the president.
In September, Mr. Gabrov, 52, was still in prison, serving a long sentence for plotting to kidnap a provincial governor, a charge he denounced as politically motivated. Violent unrest erupted in October over a disputed parliamentary election Spreaded Mr. Gabrov from prison cell to the Prime Minister’s chair.
A few days later, he took over the caretaker presidency before resigning to run for the position. The country’s main investigative body soon overturned Mr. Jabarov’s conviction.
Mr Jabarov, whose critics cursed him as a corrupt nationalist with links to organized crime, tried to unite the community behind his campaign. There were scattered reports of voting irregularities until late Sunday, when election authorities said the turnout was around 39 percent.
On Sunday evening, at a press conference in the capital, Bishkek, he said that Kyrgyzstan needs political stability now more than anything.
I invite all opponents to unite. The minority should submit to the majority, Mr. Jabarov He said During the press conference. “I came to power in difficult times; there is a crisis everywhere.”
Arkady Dubnov, a Central Asia expert in Moscow, described Mr. Jabarov as a populist “Robin Hood” who came to power on a promise to quickly bring people relief. Speaking Sunday on Ekho Moskvy, the Russian radio station, Mr Dubnov Indicated More unrest was inevitable in Kyrgyzstan.
“The way in which the entire power system in Kyrgyzstan was whipped and uprooted in just 48 hours shows how unstable governmental institutions are in this country,” he said.
Kyrgyzstan, a landlocked former Soviet republic with a population of 6.3 million, has suffered repeated political conflict. Three of its chiefs, including Mr. Jabarov’s direct predecessor Suronby Genbekov, Has been in violent revolutions since the country’s independence from Moscow in 1991.
Extreme poverty, tribal rivalry, and regional divisions between the North and the South made it difficult for successive governments to impose complete control over the country. Many governments have been corrupt, taking advantage of lucrative smuggling routes that cross the country from China.
During the recent political unrest, the protesters capturing The main government building that houses the parliament and the offices of the president. Angry at credible allegations of mass vote buying in last fall’s parliamentary elections, violent crowds stormed the building, leaving behind piles of debris.
After the protests, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the main problem in Kyrgyzstan was that its elites were trying to “adapt its internal policy to the template of some Western countries.”
“They always try to run in front of the train,” Mr. Putin said He said At a press conference in December. “At the same time, they lack the level of political awareness and institutional maturity of this kind, for example, in France.”
In his quest to expand his powers, Mr. Jabarov appears to be following Putin’s example. But this path can be risky. Krmanbek Bakiyev, another predecessor of Mr. Jabarov, attempted to unite all instruments of power in his hands during his term of office from 2005-2010. He ended up Dislocated In a bloody riot.
A country where Russian is the state language, and Kyrgyzstan is closely allied with Moscow. During his campaign, Mr. Jabarov pledged to maintain close ties. Russia operates an air base near Bishkek and is also the main destination for Hundreds of thousands Of migrant workers from Kyrgyzstan.
“We lived with Russia for 70 years during the Soviet era,” Mr. Jabarov said He said On Sunday after casting his vote. He said: “After the collapse of the Union, we were allies for 30 years,” describing Russia as a “strategic partner.”
Neighboring China is another major partner of Kyrgyzstan. The economic giant to the east is the main investor in Kyrgyzstan’s impoverished economy and the main lender to the government.
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