Crossroads Asia | Politics | Central Asia

Kyrgyz Presidential Hopefuls Rushing to Run

Last month, Kyrgyz rushed into offices. This month, they’re running for the exits in hopes of contesting the January 10 early presidential election.

Catherine Putz
Kyrgyz Presidential Hopefuls Rushing to Run
Credit: Pixabay

In October it seemed that Kyrgyz politicians were rushing randomly into offices. Now they’re running for the exits in hopes of being elected president in January. 

Elected speaker of the Kyrgyz parliament on October 13, Kanatbek Isayev (also spelled Kanat Isaev) stepped down to take part in Kyrgyzstan’s upcoming early presidential election slated for January 10, 2021. Last week, current Prime Minister and Acting President Sadyr Japarov stated his intention to step down to contest the election. 

Under the current Kyrgyz Constitution an acting or interim president cannot run in an election. The reason for this rule is simple: an acting or interim president could unduly influence the process. But it’s an easy rule to circumvent: step down. Also under the Kyrgyz Constitution, the speaker of parliament is second in line for the presidency, should the president resign or die. 

Isayev has already once passed on the acting presidential baton, perhaps because he knew it was a power that would never last. 

Sooronbay Jeebkeov issued his resignation on October 15. Isayev that same day called on Jeenbekov not to resign, but faced with a marching mob and the prospect of greater violence Jeenbekov decided to step down rather than shed blood in defense of his position. 

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At that point, Isayev should have become acting president. Instead, he issued a statement that he would concentrate his efforts on work in the parliament. He told 24.kg that he had “no moral right” to the presidency as the parliament’s term was expiring. 

At that juncture, a new date had yet to be selected for a rerun of the parliamentary election. The October 4 first attempt was marred by vote-buying and the results triggered the cascade of political turmoil still at play now, a month later. On October 21, the Kyrgyz Central Election Commission (CEC) set December 20 as the date for the new parliamentary election; the next day, the parliament voted to delay the election. While the Constitutional Chamber of the Kyrgyz Supreme Court has agreed to hear a pooled petition challenging the canceling of the December 20 date, few have hope that the Kyrgyz courts will come through with a dramatic upset.

All eyes are now on the presidential election and the field of candidates is growing

Japarov has said he would hand over presidential powers on November 14. After Isayev stepped down from the speaker post, Talant Mamytov was chosen as the new speaker. Mamytov is an ally of Japarov, the two — along with Kamchybek Tashiev — having been arrested together in 2012 and charged with attempting to “violently seize power.”

Isayev, the leader of the Kyrgyzstan party, stepped down in order to run at the behest of his party in the upcoming election.

Other stated hopefuls include Butun Kyrgyzstan’s leader, Adakhan Madumarov, along with author Arstan Alai, economist Kuban Choroyev, and Nazarbek Nyshanov, an activist. Bektur Asanov — a former MP, governor of Jalal-Abad, and ambassador — announced his intention to run as has a political scientist, Bakyt Baketayev