Kyrgyzstan president Atambayev reveals his power succession scheme

BISHKEK (TCA) — Kyrgyzstan’s President Almazbek Atambayev has expressed hope that his allies will hold power and adhere to his policies after he leaves office following an October 15 presidential election, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service reported.

Meeting with residents in the southern town of Ozgon on August 28, Atambayev called presidential candidate Sooronbai Jeenbekov his “friend” and suggested that Sapar Isakov, who became prime minister after Jeenbekov quit to run in the election, is his protege.

“After I leave my post, my friend may become the president. A young fellow whom I trained and raised was recently appointed prime minister…. I hope they will carry on my affairs and finish what I have undertaken,” Atambayev said.

Jeenbekov and Isakov are seen as loyal allies of Atambayev, who is limited to a single presidential term by the Kyrgyz Constitution.

Critics say Atambayev is looking for ways to maintain influence after he leaves office to make way for the winner of the election.

Constitutional amendments proposed by Atambayev and approved in a December 2016 referendum boosted the powers of the prime minister in Kyrgyzstan.

Opponents fear the amendments were aimed to make it easier for Atambayev and his allies to remain in power as long as possible.

Controversy has been cast over the election by the August 16 conviction of opposition politician Omurbek Tekebaev, a former ally of Atambayev, on bribery charges that his Ata-Meken (Fatherland) party says were aimed to keep him off the ballot.

Tekebaev was sentenced to eight years in prison, a ruling that bars him from running in the upcoming election and the next presidential vote, due to be held in 2023.

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Times of Central Asia