Kyrgyz Protesters Attempt to Seize Power in Post-Election Unrest

Protesters disputing Sunday’s parliamentary elections in Kyrgyzstan took over government buildings in what President Sooronbay Jeenbekov described as an attempt to seize power.

Demonstrators early Tuesday overran the parliament building and released a former president from jail, according to Russia’s Interfax news service. Parties close to Jeenbekov dominated the election in a vote that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said was tainted by allegations of vote-buying. One person was killed and 590 wounded in the overnight clashes between protesters and security forces, the government said.

Jeenbekov on Tuesday urged calm and ordered an investigation into the alleged election violations. He said the results could be annulled if necessary, according to Interfax. His opponents claimed to have overthrown the government and called on parliament to gather to name a new cabinet.

Jeenbekov was elected in 2017, backed by his predecessor Almazbek Atambayev. However, Atambayev was later charged with abuse of power and sentenced to 11 years in prison. Protesters released him from detention early Tuesday, according to Interfax.

Kyrgyzstan, a country of 6.5 million, is one of the poorest countries in Central Asia, economically reliant on remittances from workers abroad, agriculture and minerals production. A close Russian ally, the country is a member of the Moscow-led Eurasian Union. Two of its presidents have been toppled by popular protests since 2005. Transparency International ranks the country 126 out of 180 in its index of perceptions of corruption.

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