Lawmakers in Kyrgyzstan yesterday voted to lift the immunity of a former president, paving the way for a prosecution that could provoke a political crisis in the fragile Central Asian state.
Prosecutors accuse 62-year-old Almazbek Atambayev of making illegal land purchases and of corruption, but he enjoyed immunity from criminal prosecution as a former leader.
Kyrgyzstan’s parliament, loyal to Atambayev’s successor Sooronbai Jeenbekov, voted 103 to six in favour of lifting that protection.
Moves against Atambayev may lead to a major power struggle in Kyrgyzstan, which has seen a series of political crises and revolutions since gaining independence with the 1991 break-up of the Soviet Union.
The defiant former leader has stepped up security at his residence in the village of Koi-Tash, outside the capital Bishkek, with around 200 “guards” checking visitors’ bags, and a press centre has also been set up there.
Around dozen supporters arrived on horseback at the residence in the foothills of Kyrgyzstan’s Tien Shan mountains yesterday, an AFP journalist saw.
Nomadic yurts or tents have been set up outside the premises to house visitors.
Speaking to journalists on Wednesday, Atambayev said he would “stand to the end” against the charges and “has no intention of complying with the courts and prosecutors.”