No progress on Kyrgyz impasse as businesses warn of economic damage

No progress on Kyrgyz impasse as businesses warn of economic damage

People attend a rally following post-election protests during which opposition groups took control
People attend a rally following post-election protests during which opposition groups took control of most of the government's apparatus, in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Oct 7, 2020. (REUTERS/Vladimir Pirogov)

BISHKEK: Kyrgyzstan's parliament failed to gather a quorum in an overnight session, deputies said on Thursday (Oct 8), leaving a power vacuum in the Central Asian nation as rival groups sought to claim power after ousting the cabinet.

Unrest has gripped the former Soviet republic, which borders China and hosts a Russian military airbase, since thousands of people protesting against the results of a parliamentary election seized government buildings on Tuesday.

Three opposition groups have each proposed their candidates for interim prime minister who would need to oversee a repeat vote in the coming months, Kyrgyz news website Akipress quoted deputy Ryskeldi Mombekov as saying.

In addition to Sadyr Zhaparov and Tilek Toktogaziyev, who have already made their ambitions clear this week, Mombekov said Omurbek Babanov, who has already served as the cabinet head, had also emerged as a contender.

But the outgoing parliament has itself split into two groups that were meeting separately outside the headquarters ransacked by protesters, Mombekov said, and the group that met overnight in a hotel only included 40 MPs, whereas major decisions such as naming a cabinet require a 61-vote majority.

Another MP, Elvira Surabaldieva, posted a video from the meeting online, saying it had failed to pass a motion to impeach President Sooronbai Jeenbekov.

Members of voluntary people's patrol guard the government headquarters building in Bishkek
Members of voluntary people's patrol guard the government headquarters building which has been taken over by opposition groups during post-election protests, in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Oct 7, 2020. (REUTERS/Vladimir Pirogov)

Kyrgyzstan's central bank has allowed financial institutions to reopen on Thursday since their closure on Tuesday, as business associations warned the nation of 6.5 million could face food shortages if banks and tax offices remained shut and public safety could not be guaranteed.

Sunday's election handed the victory to two establishment parties, one of them closely linked to Jeenbekov.

Eleven other parties refused to accept the results and the central election commission annulled them on Tuesday as it became clear Jeenbekov was losing his grip on power.

The embattled president has not appeared in public since, although his office said he remained in the capital, Bishkek, and Jeenbekov issued several statements calling for talks between rival political factions.

One person has been killed and more than a thousand have sought medical help since the unrest broke out, as vigilante units formed by Bishkek residents scuffled with protesters and looters.

Protesters are seen inside the parliament building, known as the White House, in Bishkek
Protesters are seen inside the parliament building, known as the White House, in Bishkek, Kyrgystan Oct 5, 2020 in this still image taken from social media video obtained on Oct 6, 2020. (TWITTER/GRAFECRISTO via REUTERS)

However, acting interior minister Kursan Asanov, who took over this week after running in the election as an opposition candidate, said police and vigilantes had managed to prevent mass looting in the capital.

He vowed to stop any attempts to further destabilise the country where ethnic violence left hundreds dead after the ouster of president Kurmanbek Bakiyev in 2010 in another revolt.

Kursanov also urged parliament to convene and install a legitimate cabinet, describing the current situation as stable but tense.

Source: Reuters/kv

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