Kyrgyzstan’s Prime Minister Sariyev resigns but says will stay in politics

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BISHKEK (TCA) — On April 11 Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Temir Sariyev resigned at his own request. On the same day President Almazbek Atambayev signed a decree on the resignation of the Prime Minister and the Government. According to the decree, the prime minister and his cabinet will continue performing their duties until the formation of a new Government.

Sariyev served as prime minister from April 2015.

Sariyev’s statement

Sariyev explained the reasons for the resignation in his statement which he addressed to his compatriots.

“A blatant campaign of lies and intrigue has been developed in recent days around me and the work of the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic. The political climate has changed dramatically. This situation greatly complicated the work of the Government,” Sariyev said. Various areas of Government activity have been subjected to unfounded attacks, he added, especially concerning the reconstruction of Balykchy-Korumdu road.

According to Sariyev, he did not interfere in the road reconstruction tender and was interested in an open, detailed and objective investigation of this issue. “But some political forces are not interested in objectivity. The work of the parliamentary commission clearly demonstrates that and it had one-sided views and was biased.”

“The atmosphere of gossip put the Government in a difficult position when its work was actually paralyzed,” Sariyev said. Putting the interests of the country and the people above his personal political interests, he decided to resign. “But I’m going to stay in politics,” Sariyev added.

Summing up the work of his cabinet, Sariyev said the Government had managed to improve the macroeconomic indicators. “We have also taken measures to increase the export potential of the country. Despite severe macroeconomic conditions, major projects have been launched.”

Background

Sariyev’s possible resignation had been discussed during two recent weeks. On April 6, a conflict between Sariyev and Transport Minister Argynbek Malabayev escalated, and several officials and parliamentarians were involved in it.

Malabayev publicly stated that there was collusion between the Chinese company Longhai Road and Bridge Corporation and the Prime Minister concerning the road reconstruction tender. Sariyev asked the President to dismiss Malabayev, saying that the Transport Minister was responsible for the violations in the road reconstruction tender. The Office of the President rejected Sariyev’s request, and the Anticorruption Service of the State National Security Committee said it will check if there was the interest of the Prime Minister in the road tender.

On April 9 the parliamentary commission recommended the Parliament to dismiss Sariyev. The Premier made a statement which questioned the objectivity of the conclusions of the parliamentary commission.

The parliamentary commission investigated the legality of the tender for 6.8 billion som reconstruction of a 104 km Balykchy-Korumdu motor road on the northern shore of Lake Issyk-Kul by a Chinese company. Under the conditions of the tender, the company must have a license issued by Kyrgyzstan’s authorized body. However, the Chinese company won the tender without such license and obtained it after the tender. The commission believes that as a result of the tender, the state suffered damage worth one billion soms.

The reconstruction of the ring road began in November 2015. After the road is completed, travel from the Jalal-Abad province in the south of the country to Lake Issyk-Kul will be reduced to four hours. The Issyk-Kul province is a tourist region, and the ring road will make it more attractive. The reconstruction was planned to be completed before the Second World Nomad Games to be held in September at Issyk-Kul.

According to Sariyev, the feasibility study estimated the road reconstruction at 9.2 billion soms but the tender reduced the amount to 6.83 billion soms. “So we managed to save 2.4 billion soms,” he concluded.

The parliamentary commission’s initiative of no confidence in the Government comes personally from MP Kanat Isayev, Sariyev added. Isayev admitted that he was related to a company which failed to win the road reconstruction tender, but he was the initiator of the parliamentary commission, said Sariyev.

Opinions

Experts’ opinions about the resignation of Sariyev divided as some approved it while others considered it premature.

Kyrgyzstan can get into the Guinness Book of Records due to frequent rotations of the Government, experts said. No convincing evidence of Sariyev’s affiliation to the corruption schemes were presented to the public, and the closed meetings of the commission suggest a certain bias in the scandal around the road reconstruction.

Sariyev was supposed to present the Government report for 2015 to the Parliament. It was the third cabinet which resigned without providing a report to the Parliament. On April 13, the parliamentary commission was supposed to present results of its investigation concerning the tender at the plenary session of the parliament.

MP Kanat Isayev, the leader of the Kyrgyzstan party’s faction in the parliament, which is considered a satellite of the ruling Social Democratic Party, said that the Prime Minister had made the right decision because the parliamentary commission has revealed violations in the tender.

According to journalist and political analyst Naryn Aiyp, the political life of Kyrgyzstan is now going through another stage of shame when every year the country changes its prime minister, whatever the reason. There is an unwritten rule in Kyrgyzstan when, whatever success the person has achieved, in a certain period of time he has to give way to another one just because others also want to get a piece of the cake. This “rule” does not give an opportunity to develop the economy in the country. Naryn Aiyp compared Kyrgyzstan’s politics to spiders in a closed container — they can only suck the life-giving juices from the state. Sariyev has become a victim of such “spiders” attack due to his activity, desire to restore order in some sectors, and his far-reaching plans, the journalist believes.

According to experts, Sariyev is now in an advantageous position because in 2017 he may participate in the presidential election as a victim of the current regime.