This time next year, Kyrgyzstan should have a new president-elect. The coming election is shaping up to be a unique event in Central Asia in that, unlike contests in neighboring nations, it is still difficult to call.
Early indications suggest outgoing President Almazbek Atambayev will do whatever possible to ensure the new leader does not come from rival stock.
Despite repeatedly pledging that he will not hold political office after his single term expires, few doubt that Atambayev is eager to ensure a safe retirement in a country renowned for its turbulent politics. Critics fear his administration may exercise undue influence over the 2017 presidential election, precisely in order to achieve such an end.
Central Asia’s only single-term head of state has cut an increasingly paranoid figure in recent times, railing against even moderate criticism as the country prepares for a December 11 referendum on controversial constitutional changes that look certain to boost the present ruling circle.
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