Detained opposition leader named as presidential candidate in Kyrgyzstan

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BISHKEK (TCA) — Kyrgyzstan’s opposition Ata-Meken (Fatherland) party has named its detained leader Omurbek Tekebaev as the party’s candidate for the November 19 presidential election in the country. The decision was made at an extraordinary Ata-Meken congress held in the capital Bishkek on March 5, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service reported.

Tekebaev, the leader of Ata-Meken party’s faction in the Kyrgyz parliament and an opponent of Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev, is currently being held at the State National Security Committee’s detention center on allegations of bribe-taking and fraud.

On February 27, a court in Bishkek ordered Tekebaev be held in custody until April 25. He is being investigated in a corruption and fraud case related to allegations that he received a $1 million bribe from a Russian businessman while serving as deputy prime minister of the Kyrgyz interim government in 2010.

A former ally, Tekebaev fell out with Atambayev in 2016 over constitutional amendments that critics suspect were aimed at prolonging Atambayev’s power after the November 19 presidential election in which he is barred from running by a single-term limit.

Supporters of Tekebaev believe the criminal investigation against him is aimed at preventing him from running for president.

Atambayev has defended Tekebaev’s arrest, saying that it was not politically motivated.

Delegates at the Ata-Meken party congress decided to hold rallies across the country and call for Tekebaev’s release.

Kyrgyzstan is expected to hold its presidential election on November 19.

President Atambayev’s term will end on December 1.

So far, Tekebaev and three other politicians, including two former prime ministers, have been named as presidential candidates.

Sergey Kwan

TCA