President of Kyrgyzstan resigns following mass protests

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Kyrgyzstan’s President, Sooronbay Jeenbekov, has resigned after a disputed parliamentary election triggered mass protests, according to a speech published by his office on Thursday.

“I am not holding on to power,’’ Jeenbekov said in the statement.

He did not want to be remembered by history as the president who opened fire on his own citizens, he said.

Violent unrest broke out in Kyrgyzstan in early October, after parliamentary elections resulted in a win for candidates with ties to the sitting president.

Kyrgyzstan, a country of 6.5 million people located on the border with China, was plunged into chaos following the Oct. 4 vote that was swept by pro-government parties.

The opposition said the election was tainted by vote-buying and other irregularities

Observers called the elections unfair, and shortly afterwards protesters stormed government buildings in the capital, calling on Mr Jeenbekov to resign.

Mr Jeenbekov introduced a state of emergency in the capital that was endorsed Tuesday by parliament.

Authorities deployed troops to Bishkek over the weekend and introduced the curfew.

The move eased tensions in the city, where residents feared looting that accompanied previous uprisings and began forming vigilante groups to protect property.

Stores and banks that were closed last week have reopened.

The turmoil marks the third time in 15 years that demonstrators have moved to oust a government in Kyrgyzstan, one of the poorest nations to emerge from the former Soviet Union.

As in the uprisings that ousted presidents in 2005 and 2010, the current protests have been driven by clan rivalries that shape the country’s politics.

 

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