Kyrgyzstan’s president resigns as a recent convict takes charge

ON THE FENCE of the building housing Kyrgyzstan’s parliament and the office of the president, which protesters stormed last week, hangs a disconsolate handwritten sign: “In autumn, leaves should fall, not the country.” Many locals fear that Kyrgyzstan is on the brink of chaos, after Sooronbay Jeyenbekov, the president, tendered his resignation on October 15th. He was on the defensive after protests had erupted over a parliamentary election marred by systematic vote-buying. He had the election annulled and accepted the resignation of the prime minister, but had intended to stay on himself until the country was “back on the path of lawfulness”. His change of heart suggests he sees little hope of that now. Instead, he simply said he was hoping to avoid bloodshed by going.

The government has been left in the hands of Sadyr Japarov, the new prime minister, who was sprung from prison by his supporters during the post-election unrest, cutting short an 11-year sentence for kidnapping. Attacks on rivals by his thuggish followers have raised fears of mob rule. By law, the parliamentary speaker acts as president until new elections can be held. But if Kanat Isayev, who is loyal to Mr Jeyenbekov, were also to step aside, as Mr Japarov’s supporters have been demanding, the prime minister would become the acting president.

Mr Japarov...

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