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Once-jailed nationalist wins Kyrgyzstan presidency

The election followed the ousting of the previous president in October.

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Supporters listen to Sadyr Zhaparov during a meeting in Bishkek (AP)

Supporters listen to Sadyr Zhaparov during a meeting in Bishkek (AP)

Supporters listen to Sadyr Zhaparov during a meeting in Bishkek (AP)

A nationalist politician who was released from prison amid protests that overthrew Kyrgyzstan’s president last year has been elected as his replacement.

Voters in the election that gave Sadyr Zhaparov a landslide 79% victory also approved a referendum to change the constitution to give the presidency more power.

The vote followed the ousting of the previous president in October.

The ex-Soviet Central Asian nation sank into turmoil after a parliamentary election that was swept by pro-government parties. Opposition supporters accused authorities of rigging the vote and forced President Sooronbai Jeenbekov to step down on October 15.

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Sadyr Zhaparov won the election (Vladimir Voronin/AP)

Sadyr Zhaparov won the election (Vladimir Voronin/AP)

AP/PA Images

Sadyr Zhaparov won the election (Vladimir Voronin/AP)

Mr Zhaparov, who was imprisoned in 2017 on conviction of involvement in the kidnapping of a regional governor, spearheaded Mr Jeenbekov’s removal from office.

The unrest marked the third time in 15 years when a leader of the nation of 6.5-million people on the border with China was forced out by a popular uprising.

Like the previous uprisings that toppled presidents in 2005 and 2010, the latest turmoil was driven by clan rivalries that shape the country’s politics.

Mr Zhaparov pushed for the constitutional referendum, under which the presidency will gain powers formerly held by the parliament.

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Sadyr Zhaparov casting his vote at a polling station in Bishkek (Vladimir Voronin/AP)

Sadyr Zhaparov casting his vote at a polling station in Bishkek (Vladimir Voronin/AP)

AP/PA Images

Sadyr Zhaparov casting his vote at a polling station in Bishkek (Vladimir Voronin/AP)

Kyrgyzstan, which is a member of Russia-dominated economic and security alliances, hosts a Russian airbase and depends on Moscow’s economic support.

It formerly was the site of a US airbase that served as a key transport hub for the war in Afghanistan.

Russia has voiced concerns about the turmoil in Kyrgyzstan but refrained from supporting any of the presidential candidates.

PA


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