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Kyrgyzstan: Most Competitive Presidential Race in Country’s History Taking Shape

Sooronbai Jeenbekov (right), the ruling SDPK’s candidate for president, addresses an audience in the southern Osh province on June 12. Many believe voters in Kyrgyzstan’s south may prove decisive in the presidential election scheduled for this fall. (Photo: Government of Kyrgyzstan)

When Kyrgyzstan’s prime minister and presidential contender Sooronbai Jeenbekov was serving as governor of the southern Osh region from 2010 to 2015, he became an object of ridicule by some functionaries in the regional government, like Tologon Keldibayev.
 
“People would ask me: ‘What does the governor do?’” recalled Keldibayev, a former employee of the Osh regional administration who now heads a minor southern-based political party, Kyrgyz-Ata. “I would tell them he wasn’t really the governor at all. He was more like the security guard for the town square in Osh. His job was to look out of the window to see if there was a political rally. And if there wasn’t, his work for the day was done.”
 
Ignoring such attempts in character assassination, the governing Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan, or SDPK, nominated Jeenbekov in May as its candidate for president. The party is the traditional power base of incumbent President Almazbek Atambayev, who is not running due to term limits. The election is scheduled for mid-October.
 

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Kyrgyzstan: Most Competitive Presidential Race in Country’s History Taking Shape

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