BISHKEK (Reuters) – Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov sacked the state security chief on Saturday in a fresh sign of a rift within the leadership of the Central Asian nation’s ruling Social Democratic party.
Kyrgyzstan, which hosts a Russian military airbase, is the most volatile nation in Central Asia and has often seen political rivalry lead to violence.
Jeenbekov, a former prime minister, came to power last year, winning an election with the backing of then-president Almazbek Atambayev, who has now reclaimed his position as party leader.
Jeenbekov’s inauguration was the first case in Kyrgyzstan’s history of one elected president peacefully transferring power to another. The first two presidents of the former Soviet republic were toppled by violent riots in 2005 and 2010.
Since taking over, Jeenbekov has replaced some senior officials including his chief of staff Farid Niyazov, who was seen by observers as close to Atambayev.
This month, Atambayev criticized Jeenbekov over a series of accidents that left Kyrzgystan’s capital, Bishkek, without central heating in mid-winter.
On Saturday, Jeenbekov’s office said he had accepted the resignation of Atambayev appointee Abdil Segizbayev, chairman of the State Committee of National Security. It gave no details.
In another sign of a rift, Atambayev refrained from appearing on Saturday at an event commemorating the victims of the 2010 clashes between protesters and government forces, despite being officially invited by Jeenbekov.
(Reporting by Olga Dzyubenko; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Dale Hudson)