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BISHKEK (TCA) — The parliament in Kyrgyzstan has approved in first reading a bill that would eliminate immunity for ex-presidents, potentially opening the path for the prosecution of the country’s former President Almazbek Atambayev, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

A total of 100 lawmakers in the 120-seat chamber voted for the bill on December 13. Two voted against it, and 18 lawmakers were not present.

The parliamentary committee for legislation, state structures, and judicial issues approved the bill in late November.

The bill needs to be approved in two more readings by the lawmakers before President Sooronbai Jeenbekov can sign it into the law.

The vote comes amid persistent tension between Jeenbekov and his predecessor Atambayev — two politicians who used to be known as close allies.

In October, Kyrgyzstan's Supreme Court ruled that the immunity enjoyed by the country's former presidents is unconstitutional.

In recent months, some politicians and lawmakers have called for the investigation of some of Atambayev's decisions while in office.

Several of his close allies have been arrested on charges of corruption in recent months.

Atambayev helped steer Jeenbekov, who had been his prime minister, into the presidency in an October 2017 election.

Atambayev has criticized Jeenbekov since March for sacking or arresting a number of his close allies in what he called a “pseudo-anticorruption” campaign.

Two Atambayev allies who served as prime ministers when he was president, Sapar Isakov and Jantoro Satybaldiev, were arrested in June on corruption charges.

In October, Atambayev's former adviser Ikramjan Ilmiyanov was detained in Russia and brought by Kyrgyz authorities to Bishkek where he was arrested on corruption charges.

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