Six years after a violent revolution in Kyrgyzstan claimed hundreds of lives, the parliament on Wednesday unanimously endorsed a new government led by the country’s sixth prime minister Sooronbai Jeenbekov.
Jeenbekov, 57, a close ally of single-term President Almazbek Atambayev, replaced Temir Sariyev who resigned on Monday amid corruption allegations.
He promised to work “honestly and openly” having been nominated for the post by Atambayev’s Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan (SDPK), the largest party of four in the ruling coalition.
The Central Asian country’s cabinet is largely unchanged following the parliamentary vote, although a transport minister who was in dispute with Sariyev has been replaced by a former subordinate.
Jeenbekov, who previously served as deputy head of Atambayev’s administration, hails from the south of the former Soviet state of six million people, where regional balancing is a notable feature of domestic politics.
Both Jeenbekov and his brother Asylbek Jeenbekov, who stepped down as speaker on Wednesday, are prominent members of SDPK backed by northerner Atambayev.
Asylbek Jeenbekov had to give up his position to allow his brother to head the cabinet due to legislation that prevents members of a single family occupying more than one important position at once.
Sooronbai Jeenbekov’s appointment may yet have implications for presidential elections scheduled for the end of 2017, although no prime minister has lasted longer than 18 months since a 2010 revolution and ethnic violence in the country claimed hundreds of lives.
Kyrgyzstan is one of the poorest countries that emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and is strongly dependent on remittances sent home by migrants working in Russia.
The national economy has taken a sharp hit from the collapse of the Russian ruble that has affected its own national currency, the som, and slowed production at the country’s Kumtor gold mine, one of the country’s biggest assets.