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Kyrgyzstan’s Japarov faces serious economic challenges, says expert

According to him, the president-elect says he is ready for reform and modernization, however, it is unclear so far how he will proceed and what are his plans for working with foreign investors

MOSCOW, January 11. /TASS/. The future administration of Sadyr Japarov, who won the snap presidential election in Kyrgyzstan, will face serious challenges with the aim to resolve the country’s economic issues, senior researcher at the IMEMO Center for Post-Soviet Studies Stanislav Pritchin told TASS on Monday.

"This year, first serious payments on foreign debts are expected, because before that, a period of grace was in place. In the conditions of the coronavirus, economic issues, when a number of industries are under threat, it will be very hard for the budget to pay off these foreign debts. So there are very serious tasks facing the new administration. So far, we have not heard any answers to the questions standing before the administration," he said.

According to Pritchin, the president-elect says he is ready for reform and modernization, however, it is unclear so far how he will proceed and what are his plans for working with foreign investors.

When asked to comment on the outcomes of the presidential election, the expert pointed out that it was rather predictable and that Japarov practically did not face any competition from his opponents. "On the one hand, that was expected, because he was considered the key candidate from the start. At the same time, his opponents had a notedly passive position, they understood that there is no point to invest in this campaign significantly due to very small chances of winning," he said.

According to Pritchin, the surprisingly low voter turnout at this election shows a certain apathy of the population and that "no one in society believes much that an election can change anything." At the same time, the low turnout can be explained by certain changes made to the electoral law. Namely, absentee voting was prohibited, due to which many citizens of the republic were unable to vote at their places of residence.

As for the referendum on choosing the system of government, during which over 80% of citizens supported the presidential system, the expert said that "this is not the worst option" when it comes to law and order in the country. "However, taking into account the Kyrgyz independence, monopolizing power in one place is always dangerous, as the republic is very diverse, it consists of various parts, clans, political groups that aim to maintain some opportunity for balance. In the current political system, everything will depend on the role of a personality and their ability to include the interests of other political groups as well as their clans. This is what Kyrgyzstan has always had an issue with," he stressed.

On January 10, a snap presidential election took place in Kyrgyzstan, along with the referendum, during which the country’s citizens chose between a presidential and a parliamentary system of government in the country. Seventeen candidates were running for president. According to the Central Election Commission, after processing 98% of ballots, Sadyr Japarov won the election with 79.2% of the vote. In order to win the first round of the election, a candidate needs to secure over half of the vote. Meanwhile, over 80% of Kyrgyz citizens voted in favor of the presidential system of government.