Kyrgyzstan elects president
On January 10 it was announced that Sadyr Japarov has been returned to office. He secured almost 80% of the vote. His nearest competitor polled a measly 7%. On the same day the country held a referendum on expanding presidential prerogatives. The expansion of presidential power won by 89% of the vote.The outcome is a most awe striking reversal of fortunes for Japarov, 52. In October 2020 he was freed from jail by massive protests. He had been serving a sentence. Japarov was briefly acting prime minister and acting president in late 2020. Nevertheless, his enemies say that he mobilized state agencies to help him win the election.Kyrgyzstan is the most unstable country in the region. It experienced 3 revolutions in 10 years. It is seen as the only genuine democracy east of Georgia. Japarov's foes perceive his election as a retrograde step. They fear that he shall degrade democracy.Japarov's pitch was about increasing salaries and pensions. This appealed strongly to the elderly.The minor candidates ran ineffectual campaigns on shoestring budgets. They put up few posters. Japarov posed as the anti-crime and anti-corruption candidate. His foes consider this projection and accuse him of gangsterism. The economy has been hammered by the coronavirus. The country's main export is guestworkers to Russia and China. Kyrgyzstan has suffered grievously from a dearth of remittances since March 2020. The one thing everyone agreed on was maintaining cordial relations with Russia. Bishkek cannot afford to offend Moscow, particularly in the current economic climate. However, some in Kyrgyzstan are sinophobic, and Chinese-owned property has been vandalized.