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Kyrgyzstan: Political Mystery Lingering Into Election Year

Kyrgyzstan’s President Almazbek Atambayev during his marathon year-end news conference on December 1, 2016. Atambayev, who is limited by the constitution to just one term in office, noted at the news conference that he would like to see the next president coming from what he termed the “systemic opposition.” But political observers suspect that whoever Atambayev’s successor turns out to be, the status quo will be maintained. (Photo: Kyrgyzstani Presidential Press Service)

As Kyrgyzstan’s President Almazbek Atambayev enters his last year in office, mystery lingers over who will succeed him, and how much power that person will end up wielding.
 
Atambayev, who is limited by the constitution to just one term in office, dropped a significant but nebulous hint during his marathon year-end news conference in December, noting that he would like to see the next president coming from what he termed the “systemic opposition.”
 
The presidential election is scheduled for October. Whoever Atambayev’s successor turns out to be, political observers suspect the status quo will be maintained. Notions of a transition to a new generation of progressive, influential and charismatic politicians are likely premature, said analyst Mars Sariyev.
 
Even so, some recent tinkering to the constitution, engineered by Atambayev and his allies, appears aimed in part at thinning out the ranks among the country’s veteran political class — notably those with a reputation for making political and economic mischief.
 

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Aktan Rysaliev is a pseudonym for a journalist based in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Kyrgyzstan: Political Mystery Lingering Into Election Year

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