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Kyrgyz president refuses to resign immediately amid talks with PM

A crowd of Japarov supporters protested in central Bishkek against the appointment of a new parliarmentary speaker
A crowd of Japarov supporters protested in central Bishkek against the appointment of a new parliarmentary speaker VYACHESLAV OSELEDKO AFP
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Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan) (AFP)

Kyrgyzstan's embattled president Sooronbay Jeenbekov said Wednesday he would only resign after overseeing parliamentary elections, the president's office told AFP.

The statement came after talks with the country's new prime minister Sadyr Japarov, who had pushed for him to leave immediately.

Populist politician Japarov was confirmed as head of government on Wednesday, as the Central Asian state sought a path out of 10 days of crisis following an annulled election.

Japarov, who was serving jail time for hostage-taking before he was freed amid chaos last week, demanded the president's resignation this evening, Jeenbekov's press secretary Tolgonay Stamaliyeva told AFP.

But Stamaliyeva said the president would only resign after fresh elections.

Jeenbekov had "stressed that now he has no right to leave the presidency, as this could lead to an unpredictable course of events to the detriment of the state", she added.

The president reiterated that he would resign "after the country returns to the rule of law, after the parliamentary elections and the announcement of presidential elections", said Stamaliyeva.

- Moves to end impasse -

Jeenbekov is facing the gravest challenge of his three years in office after violence that erupted in the wake of disputed elections that were later annulled.

But signs were growing Wednesday that politicians were taking steps to end the impasse in the ex-Soviet country on China's western border.

The election of a parliamentary speaker whose party is supportive of Jeenbekov appeared to bolster the president's position.

Japarov, who was freed from jail by supporters amid chaotic scenes last week, had made several unsuccessful attempts to secure the prime minister's post since unrest over the parliamentary election.

He was finally confirmed by both the parliament and Jeenbekov following an extraordinary session on Wednesday.

But many of his supporters, who have massed in the city, have argued that the headstrong nationalist should instead be made president.

Kyrgyzstan has been dogged by political volatility for much of its three decades of independence.

A landlocked republic of 6.5 million people, it has had two presidents overthrown by street protests since gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

- Russia concerned -

The unrest has worried its ally Russia, coming as post-election protests rock ex-Soviet Belarus and clashes persist over the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's deputy chief of staff Dmitry Kozak flew in for talks with Jeenbekov and Japarov this week in a move that appeared to strengthen the position of the pro-Moscow president.

The Russian embassy said on Tuesday the "key role of the head of state" in ensuring Kyrgyzstan's future development was emphasised during Kozak's visit.

More than 1,200 people were injured and one killed during the subsequent clashes between protesters and police, leaving Kyrgyzstan teetering on the brink of chaos.

Jeenbekov imposed a state of emergency on Friday, but although protests were temporarily banned that has not prevented Japarov's supporters from gathering.

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