Protests erupt in Kyrgyzstan following alleged vote-buying during parliamentary elections

Out of the 16 political parties contesting Sunday’s parliamentary elections, only four could cross the official cut-off of 7% votes to qualify for the seats in the parliament

October 06, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch
Out of the 16 political parties contesting Sunday’s parliamentary elections, only four could cross the official cut-off of 7% votes to qualify for the seats in the parliament

Hundreds of protesters stormed government buildings in the capital of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek, on Tuesday, October 6. They were protesting alleged irregularities in the recently-held parliamentary elections and demanding a fresh vote.

The security forces made use of water cannons, tear gas and stun grenades to try to disperse the protestors. One person was reportedly killed and more than 600 injured in the police action.

The protesters stormed the “white house” and occupied the presidential office. The building also houses the country’s parliament. The protesters also freed former president Almazbek Atambayev, who is serving an 11 year sentence, from the Nation Security Committee building. Almazek was arrested last year and convicted for corruption in June 2020.  

Elections for the Kyrgyzstan parliament were held on Sunday, October 4. The final results were announced on Monday in which two parties allied to president Soornobay Jeenbekov, Birimdik (unity) and Mekenim Kyrgyzstan, secured more than half the votes. Only four parties out of 16 were able to make the official cut of 7% votes. Three of the four parties are considered to be close to the president.

An international monitoring mission organized by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said that it suspected large scale vote-buying during the elections which led 12 of the opposition parties to declare that they would not recognize the results. They joined the protesters demanding re-elections. 

President Soornobay Jeenbekov announced after meeting with the opposition leaders that he is ready to annul Sunday’s elections if necessary.

Politics in the Central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan has been marred by large-scale corruption and political unrest for long. The domination of certain families in the country’s politics has often been challenged by the people. In recent months, failure to deal with the impact of COVID-19 on the country’s economy has created fresh possibilities for popular unrest.