BISHKEK (Reuters) - Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov sacked his cabinet on Thursday after it lost a surprise no-confidence vote in parliament, the latest round in an apparent power struggle between the head of state and the leader of the ruling party.
Prime Minister Sapar Isakov lost his job after the ruling coalition, led by former president Almazbek Atambayev’s Social Democratic party, suddenly pulled its backing. Of 112 deputies present, 101 voted against him in the no-confidence vote.
Sacking Isakov completes a series of reshuffles that Jeenbekov began shortly after coming to power last November, removing Atambayev’s appointees from state security and the prosecutor-general’s office.
Volatility has plagued Kyrgyzstan, a Central Asian nation of six million people, since it gained independence from Moscow in 1991. Political conflicts erupted into violent revolutions in 2005 and 2010.
Atambayev, who chairs the Social Democratic party but is not a member of parliament, had backed Jeenbekov in the presidential election. But he began criticising Jeenbekov this month, in a sign of a rift between the two.
Hours after the no-confidence vote, the Social Democrats nominated Mukhammedkaliy Abylgaziyev, Jeenbekov’s chief of staff, for prime minister. Parliament is expected to confirm his appointment on Friday.
“Atambayev has been marginalized,” said Alexander Knyazev, a Kazakhstan-based Central Asia analyst. Atambayev could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
The Social Democrats also announced the expansion of the coalition to include Respublika - Ata Zhurt (Fatherland), previously an opposition party.
Reporting by Olga Dzyubenko; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Gareth Jones, Larry King