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Kyrgyzstan’s Prime Minister Kubatbek Boronov has stepped down after the Central Electoral Commission annulled the results of Sunday’s parliamentary elections in response to accusations of vote-rigging.

Boronov and Dastan Jumabekov, the speaker of the country’s parliament, presented their resignation letters at a meeting of legislators in the capital Bishkek on Tuesday.

At an emergency session on Tuesday, the parliament appointed Sadyr Zhaparov, a founder of the opposition Mekenchil party, which had lost the election, as acting prime minister.

Earlier on Tuesday, Zhaparov had been released by protesters from prison, where he was serving a sentence of 11 years and six months for taking a government official hostage in 2013.

Thousands took to Ala-Too’s square on Monday to protest against electoral fraud. The riots that ensued saw the security services respond with tear gas, rubber bullets and shock grenades against the protesters, killing one 19-year-old and injuring 590.

Later that day, protesters stormed the White House, which hosts the offices of the country’s president and parliament.

A video that made rounds on social media saw members of the security services declare: “We’re with you.”

A group of 13 opposition parties on Tuesday formed a Coordinating Council which has temporarily assumed full responsibility for finding a way out of the current deadlock.

The mayors of Bishkek and Osh and the governors of Naryn, Talas, and Issyk-Kul regions have resigned.

While President Sooronbay Jeenbekov – who was allied with Boronov – made an appearance calling for calm, most believe his days in power are numbered.

 

‘People frustrated’

Kyrgyzstan is no stranger to political upheavals. In the past 15 years, the country faced two revolutions – in 2005 and 2010 – against the corrupt political class and electoral fraud.

The 2010 revolution saw ethnic clashes in the majority Uzbek south of the country in which more than 400 people lost their lives and many thousands were displaced.

The regional divide between north and south has long been the most significant split in Kyrgyz society, with the 2010 revolution seen as orchestrated by the north and imposed on the disenfranchised south.

 

The new constitution drafted following the upheaval was meant to bring about a parliamentary democracy.

But in 2020, the vision of a democratic Kyrgyzstan, often called the island of democracy in a heavily authoritarian region, seems far-fetched.

Sunday’s election saw widespread reports of vote-buying and high mobilisation of administrative resources in favour of the three main governing parties – especially Mekenim Kyrgyzstan, funded by the businessmen and former deputy customs chief Raimbek Matraimov.

“A lot of people felt that this was to be expected considering how the two ruling parties didn’t just win but won so obviously in a manipulated way,” Christopher Schwartz, a Bishkek-based journalist and expert, told Al Jazeera.

“A lot of people are frustrated and disappointed and believe that the authorities have had this coming.”

Schwartz said that the streets of Bishkek were mostly calm, but tense, on Tuesday, and that people are sitting tight and waiting for what is to come.

“There is significantly less violence than in the previous revolution 10 years ago but certainly nobody knows where this is going,” he said.

Hopes were high ahead of the election that the vote might bring a long-awaited change in the country. But none of the opposition parties reached the 7 percent threshold required to enter parliament.

Bruce Pannier, a correspondent with US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), told Al Jazeera that in Sunday’s election, unlike in other votes, a number of opposition parties put forward younger candidates who have lived most of their lives in the independent nation that followed Soviet rule.

“So there were expectations that things might be moving in a different direction. A lot of opposition parties had pretty charismatic figures,” Pannier said.

“What happened was the worst-case scenario for opposition parties. They should have got at least some seats but the fact that only four out of 16 parties got into parliament showed that nothing was changing for the better and that the country might have made some steps back.”

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Kyrgyzstan election protests
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