BISHKEK (Reuters) – Kyrgyzstan’s president asked parliament on Tuesday to vote again on the man it has nominated as prime minister after both held talks with a senior official from key ally Russia following unrest in the Central Asian state.
The move could be a formality but, if the vote fails, it could further deepen the political crisis in a strategically located country which also enjoys close ties with China and hosts a large Canadian-owned gold mining operation.
President Sooronbai Jeenbekov’s office gave no details of the talks with Dmitry Kozak, deputy head of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin administration, but said he had visited Kyrgyzstan on Monday.
Sadyr Japarov, a nationalist politician who has been named prime minister by parliament but has not yet been confirmed in office by Jeenbekov, also attended the meeting, it said.
Kyrgyzstan’s parliament voted last week to name Japarov as prime minister after he was freed from prison by supporters during the unrest, but he cannot take office until Jeenbekov has confirmed his appointment.
In a separate statement, Jeenbekov’s office said he had met Japarov one-on-one and told him he would ask parliament to vote again after some parliamentary deputies and activists criticised Saturday’s decision as illegal because of proxy voting by some deputies.
The United States embassy to Bishkek on Tuesday also criticised the Saturday vote over “irregularities”.
“It is clear that one of the obstacles towards democratic process is the attempt by organised crime groups to exert influence over politics and elections,” it said in a statement, urging Jeenbekov and other players to uphold the rule of law.
Kyrgyzstan hosts a Russian military airbase and has close economic ties with Moscow, which dominated the former Soviet republic of 6.5 million for decades.
Moscow described the situation in Kyrgyzstan as a mess and chaos after street protests broke out over a parliamentary election on Oct. 4 which handed victory to two establishment parties, one of them closely allied with Jeenbekov.
Jeenbekov has halted the protests and clashes by declaring a state of emergency and deploying troops in the capital, Bishkek. But the government has been toppled and the president said last week he was ready to resign once a new prime minister was named.
Parliament convened late on Tuesday and confirmed Jeenbekov’s emergency declaration and elected a new speaker, Kanat Isayev, who could take over in case of the president’s resignation. But it was unclear if it planned to hold a repeat vote for prime minister at the same session.
(Reporting by Mariya Gordeyeva; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov, Editing by Timothy Heritage and Giles Elgood)