Kyrgyzstan politician, in prison until last week, named prime minister

New Kyrgyz Prime Minister Sadyr Japarov said on Wednesday he would press President Sooronbai Jeenbekov to resign as promised to end a political crisis in the Central Asian nation, where the result of an Oct. 4 election was annulled after protests.

Kyrgyzstan’s parliament had earlier confirmed nationalist Japarov as premier for the second time, after Jeenbekov vetoed its previous decision on Oct. 10 because of proxy voting by some legislators.

The president signed off on the appointment shortly after the second vote. Jeenbekov said last week he was ready to resign once a new cabinet was installed, but it was unclear if he planned to do so imminently.

“The president’s resignation is what people are demanding,” Japarov told a briefing after the vote in parliament. “I will go to the president today and we will resolve this issue.”

He also reaffirmed his commitment to maintain a strategic partnership with Russia and said he had no plans to change the terms of Russian military presence in the mountainous country of 6.5 million, which borders China.

A soldier of the Kyrgyz army guards a checkpoint on a city street in Bishkek on Monday, when the president ordered a new, week-long state of emergency in the country’s capital. (Vladimir Voronin/The Associated Press)

Both sides had held talks this week with a senior official from Russia, Kyrgyzstan’s closest ally.

Russia has expressed concerns that the former Soviet republic, home to a Russian military air base and a large Canadian-owned gold mining operation, could slide into complete chaos and said it had a duty to prevent that.

Crisis spurred by disputed vote

Japarov’s supporters freed him from prison last week amid unrest after the parliamentary election, which official results said was a landslide victory for allies of Jeenbekov. The result was annulled after protesters seized government buildings on Oct. 6.

Supporters of Sadyr Japarov rally to demand President Sooronbai Jeenbekov’s resignation in Bishkek on Wednesday. (Vyacheslav Oseledko/AFP/Getty Images)

Japarov had been serving a lengthy sentence on charges of taking a senior public servant hostage during a protest in 2013. Last week, a court reviewed his case and quashed the verdict.

Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek is currently under a state of emergency, but a few hundred Japarov supporters demonstrated in centre of the city, defying a ban on rallies, to demand that the president resign and parliament dissolve itself.