January 28 marked the third year since Sadyr Japarov was officially sworn in as Kyrgyzstan’s president.
In another three years, there will be another election. And by all appearances, Japarov will stand again — and almost certainly win handily, barring any dramatic surprises in the interim.
That much was revealed by garrulous deputy Prime Minister Edil Baisalov in remarks carried on January 29 by RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz service, Radio Azattyk.
“Our president will participate in the next elections. The constitution allows it, so he will not just abandon things halfway. The people will not allow it either. The people have hope now. And in the next three years, they will witness significant achievements,” Baisalov said.
A confirmation of the same arrived on January 30 from Japarov’s spokesman, Askat Alagozov.
“Considering that long-term international projects of strategic importance … are being planned and undertaken, Sadyr Japarov's participation in the elections for a second term would be consistent with his policies," said Alagozov.
As to whether Japarov is, strictly speaking, allowed to run again, not everybody agrees.
Japarov assumed the presidency under an earlier version of the constitution that permitted only one six-year term. It was only after he was elected that the rules were changed, by means of a constitutional referendum in 2021, to permit presidents to serve up to two five-year terms.
Japarov’s camp does not believe there is any legal ambiguity, though. And since the courts operate in effect at the behest of the presidential administration, they are unlikely to create any obstacles.
Hints have been dropped before about Japarov wanting to extend his time in power.
In November, Prime Minister Akylbek Japarov (his unrelated namesake) stated that Kyrgyzstan needed "stability" until 2030 and an absence of “economic shocks” to repay the country's nearly $6 billion worth of debt.
A month later, security services chief Kamchybek Tashiyev, a long-time Japarov ally, was more explicit.
"Our president was elected for a term of six years under the old constitution. But according to the current constitution, he has the right to be reelected for a second term,” he wrote on Facebook. “So I hope we can give our support to Sadyr Nurgozhoevich [Japarov] and that we can together serve the people.”
There was an additional nuance to that post by Tashiyev, though. It has been much whispered that Japarov and Tashiyev — who are sometimes derisively dubbed the “eki dos”, or two friends — do not always see eye to eye, and that the latter might one day be tempted to unseat the former and take his place.
But if there is any discord in the relationship at present, it is being well hidden.
The most certain confirmation to date that Japarov intends to run again came from the man himself.
In January, he spoke in an interview to state news agency Kabar about the problem of Kyrgyzstan’s debts. The country's leadership will need a minimum of 10 years to settle those liabilities, he said.
“By 2035, we will repay the previously assumed debts," he concluded, hinting that he intends to personally oversee this process.
Ayzirek Imanaliyeva is a journalist based in Bishkek.