BISHKEK (Reuters) - Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev named long-standing ally Daniyar Usenov Wednesday as prime minister, in a major shake-up of government that cements his grip on power.
Bakiyev’s Ak Zhol party nominated Usenov Tuesday after the president removed the previous government and transferred key agencies, including the state security service and financial police, to his own control.
Bakiyev says the changes are designed to make government more efficient and help the country address economic problems and security threats. His critics say they only boost his already sweeping powers.
Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet republic in Central Asia, hosts a U.S. airbase which supplies coalition troops fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. The poor country of 5 million people exports gold, tobacco, cotton, mercury and uranium.
Bakiyev won a second five-year term in office in July in a poll criticized by Western observers. The opposition has dismissed it as rigged and accused the government of cracking down on dissent.
New prime minister Usenov, 49, was previously Bakiyev’s chief of staff.
Reporting by Olga Dzyubenko; writing by Olzhas Auyezov; editing by Mark Trevelyan