Opposition leader detained in Kyrgyzstan

Opposition leader detained in Kyrgyzstan

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan - Agence France-Presse
Opposition leader detained in Kyrgyzstan

AP photo

A veteran opposition leader in Kyrgyzstan was arrested on corruption charges, security services said yesterday, as political tensions mount in the Central Asian country ahead of a November presidential poll.

The State Committee for National Security (GKNB) said Omurbek Tekebayev, who leads the nominally socialist Ata-Meken party, was detained yesterday after landing at the country’s airport.

The opposition leader, a bitter adversary of incumbent President Almazbek Atambayev, will be held for at least 48 hours in connection with an investigation into corruption at a key telecoms company, the statement said.
While ex-Soviet Kyrgyzstan is the most democratic country in a region dominated by long-ruling strongmen, it has also been the most politically volatile in recent times.

The country experienced two revolutions that unseated presidents in 2005 and 2010 followed by ethnic violence that left over 400 dead.

Tekebayev’s arrest comes after two of his party colleagues were questioned for four and nearly nine hours respectively in unrelated corruption cases earlier this month.

The Ata-Meken party strongly opposed a referendum on constitutional changes in December that was driven by Atambayev’s office.

Atambayev is constitutionally restricted to a single six-year term and says he has no intention of easing into the office of prime minister, a position whose powers were boosted by the recent constitutional changes.

Tekebayev, 58, also recently called for Atambayev to be impeached and demanded authorities to check the president and his family members for evidence of corruption.

The Ata-Meken leader has so far not declared his intention to run in the presidential vote set for Nov. 19.

Two former prime ministers have announced their candidacies for the ballot that unlike other votes in Central Asia, will be keenly contested.