Kyrgyz Parliament Approves New Prime Minister, Cabinet

BISHKEK -- The Kyrgyz parliament has confirmed Mukhammedkalyi Abylgaziev as the Central Asian country’s new prime minister, a day after an ally of former President Almazbek Atambaev was sacked.

The new cabinet proposed by Abylgaziev and approved by parliament on April 20 includes a mix of newcomers and holdovers from the previous government led by Sapar Isakov.

President Sooronbai Jeenbekov sacked Isakov's government on April 19, hours after lawmakers passed a no-confidence motion in the strongest sign of a power struggle between Jeenbekov and his predecessor, Atambaev.

The confidence vote was initiated by opposition lawmakers and followed criticism of the cabinet's 2017 annual report by opposition parties. But the ruling coalition led by Atambaev's Social Democratic party abruptly withdrew its backing for Isakov, and 101 of 112 present in the 120-seat chamber voted against him.

Atambaev kept a low profile for several months after leaving office five months ago, but he has publicly criticized Jeenbekov -- his former prime minister and favored successor in the October 2017 presidential vote -- on several occasions following his election as head of the Social Democrats on March 31.

Earlier in April, Jeenbekov dismissed Abdil Segizbaev, the chief of the State Committee for National Security, and Prosecutor-General Indira Joldubaeva, who are also Atambaev's allies and had long been criticized for a crackdown on opposition politicians and independent journalists.

Kyrgyzstan, a country of 6 million that hosts a Russian military base, is widely seen as the most democratic but also the most politically volatile of the five Central Asian states that gained independence in the Soviet breakup of 1991. Antigovernment protests toppled presidents in 2005 and 2010.

Atambaev had backed Jeenbekov in the presidential election but started criticizing him this month in a sign of a rift between the two.