BISHKEK (Reuters) - Kyrgyzstan’s parliament named Sapar Isakov, previously President Almazbek Atambayev’s chief of staff, prime minister on Friday after his predecessor resigned to run for president.
The Central Asian nation of six million closely allied with Russia will hold a presidential election on Oct.15 and previous prime minister, Sooronbai Jeenbekov, is running with the backing of Atambayev’s Social Democratic party.
Career diplomat Isakov, 40, had in the past overseen foreign policy at Atambayev’s office.
Atambayev is barred from running for a second term, but some critics fear he could seek to retain political power after October by taking on the role of prime minister, a switch that President Vladimir Putin engineered in Russia in 2008.
Atambayev has denied having such plans. He will retain significant political influence in any case as the leader of Social Democrats who dominate the majority coalition in parliament.
The mostly Muslim ex-Soviet nation is a parliamentary republic where two previous presidents have been toppled by protests.
Kyrgyzstan hosts a Russian military airbase and its economy relies heavily on remittances from migrant laborers working in Russia, as well as gold mining.
Reporting by Olga Dzyubenko; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Jack Stubbs and Toby Chopra