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Kyrgyzstan’s cabinet resigns amid political turmoil

Associated Press

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan – Kyrgyzstan’s Cabinet resigned Wednesday following the breakup of the governing coalition, part of political maneuvering ahead of a constitutional referendum set for this fall in the ex-Soviet Central Asian nation.

The Kyrgyz parliament’s speaker formally declared that the governing coalition no longer exists following the departure of President Almazbek Atambayev’s Social-Democratic Party. The coalition’s collapse triggered an immediate resignation of the Cabinet.

The move reflects an escalating conflict between Atambayev and his former ally, Omurbek Tekebayev, who has criticized constitutional amendments proposed by the president and challenged him on other issues. A new governing coalition to be created will leave Tekebayev’s Aka-Meken party in the opposition.

Bishkek-based political analyst Ainura Arzymatova said that Atambayev also would likely take other steps to consolidate his power ahead of December’s referendum.

If approved, the constitutional amendments would boost the power of prime minister. Atambayev’s critics have claimed that the president could shift into the prime minister’s seat after his current term ends next year, even though he denied having such intention.

Amid their conflict, Atambayev and Tekebayev have exchanged mutual accusations of corruption.

The escalating political infighting ahead of the referendum has fueled fears of a new round of instability in the impoverished nation of 6 million on China’s mountainous western frontier. Kyrgyyzstan has seen the violent overthrow of two presidents since gaining independence in 1991.

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