BISHKEK (TCA) — A new mayor of Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek, has been elected by the city council amid protests by civil activists.
Forty-three out of 44 city council members voted on August 8 for Aziz Surakmatov, the only candidate proposed by the ruling Social Democratic party.
Activists in Bishkek have been protesting for weeks against the fact that there were no other candidates to the post, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service reported.
On August 8 after the city council voted for Surakmatov, dozens of civil rights activists protested in Bishkek, holding puppets stuck on sticks with labels of several political parties represented at the city council.
Many of the protesters were holding posters, saying “The mayor must be elected, not appointed,” and “The City Council must be dismissed.”
The protesters then threw the puppets into a trash bin.
On August 7, the Central Election Commission said that the activists’ request to establish a direct election of the Mayor of Bishkek by the city’s residents had been declined.
Activists also say that the election law requiring a candidate to pass the Kyrgyz language test was violated, stressing that 46-year-old Surakmatov, whose proficiency in Kyrgyz language has been under question, has not been tested.
The elected Mayor Surakmatov promised to present the city development program in October.
“We are currently working on the program, I think we will submit it to Bishkek City Сouncil not later than October,” he told journalists after his election on August 8, 24.kg news agency reported.
Bishkek’s former Mayor, Albek Ibraimov, and former deputy mayor, Renat Makenov, were arrested last month on corruption charges.