Kyrgyzstan: Former President Atambayev admits ‘many mistakes’ when in office

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BISHKEK (TCA) — Kyrgyzstan’s former President Almazbek Atambayev has admitted that he made mistakes while running the Central Asian nation from 2011 to 2017.

Atambayev’s statement comes amid persistent tensions between him and incumbent President Sooronbai Jeenbekov — two politicians who used to be close allies, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service reports.

Speaking to journalists along with other leaders of his Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan (SDPK) on February 22, Atambayev said that his party will soon start cleaning its ranks from “traitors,” referring to a split faction within the party.

Anti-Atambayev members of the party initiated the “SDPK Without Atambayev” campaign last year as tension between the former president and his successor deepened.

“As party chairman and then as president, I have made many mistakes and it is very good that now I am able to see many things differently,” Atambayev said, adding that he might also quit the SDPK chairmanship.

“I am not eternal. I am going to be 63 this year. As I handed over the presidency, the same way I will pass on the leadership in the party. Although Atambayev won’t be the leader of the party officially, the party spirit will be safeguarded,” Atambayev said.

The SDPK deputy chairwoman, lawmaker Irina Karamushkina, said at the press conference that Atambayev will lead the SDPK’s list of candidates for next year’s parliamentary elections.

The SDPK press conference took place four days after preliminary hearings started into a corruption case against several former government officials known to be close to Atambayev.

Some politicians have said in recent months that Atambayev, who enjoys immunity as an ex-president, must also face justice for alleged corruption while in office.

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

In December, the Kyrgyz parliament approved in the first reading a bill that would eliminate immunity for ex-presidents, potentially opening the path for Atambayev’s prosecution.

Sergey Kwan

TCA