Sadyr Japarov, a nationalist politician who until last week held an 11-year prison sentence on charges of kidnapping, has been confirmed as president of Kyrgyzstan after his predecessor withdrew after protests.
Sooronbay Jeenbekov stepped up on Thursday after violent demonstrations broke out over controversial parliamentary election results.
Japarov, who was jumped out of jail during the protests and later appointed Prime Minister by Jeenbekov in a failed attempt to quell the unrest, declared himself the leader of the Central Asian nation.
On Friday, lawmakers said he would lead the country until next year̵
“Never before in the history of the country have the powers of the President, the Prime Minister and Parliament all been held in the hands of one person. The people are waiting for you to meet their expectations, “said Omurbek Tekebayev, leader of a parliamentary group.
Japarov was convicted of kidnapping a public official in 2013 but fled to Kazakhstan and was arrested in 2017. He has described the charges against him as politically motivated.
Kyrgyzstan has been in crisis since the beginning of this month after allegations of vote-rigging in parliamentary votes led thousands to the streets of the capital Bishkek. At least one person was killed and more than 1,000 injured in clashes between protesters and police.
Protesters stormed some government buildings while authorities deployed troops to Bishkek and imposed a curfew. Jeenbekov initially said he would continue until new elections could be held, but later said he did not want to “go into the history of Kyrgyzstan as a president who allowed bloodshed and shootings at its people”.
The crisis has worried Kyrgyzstan’s ally Russia, which has seen growing unrest in areas it traditionally sees as its sphere of influence. Post-election protests continue in Belarus along with deadly clashes in the erupted Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan.
Kyrgyzstan has been killed by political volatility for much of its three decades of independence. A landlocked republic of 6.5 million people, three presidents have now been unsettled by unrest since gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
Jeenbekov came to power in 2017 as the hand-picked successor to former president Almazbek Atambayev, who reportedly expected to be able to control him and continue to rule behind the scenes.
However, the new president turned against his former mentor, who was arrested and sentenced to 11 years in prison in June. Atambayev was released by protesters this month but was later arrested again.