An opposition leader in ex-Soviet Kyrgyzstan Tuesday announced a bid to impeach President Almazbek Atambayev as the politically volatile Central Asian state prepares for a controversial referendum on constitutional changes. Omurbek Tekebayev, the leader of the opposition Ata-Meken parliamentary party, told journalists he was gathering signatures to show public support and would seek to put a bill on Atambayev’s impeachment to the vote by MPs early next year.
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“We will gather the necessary facts and documents presented in the form of a legal document and begin the impeachment process before March,” said Tekebayev, a political veteran whose party has 11 seats in the 120-member parliament.
Tekebayev has accused former oppositionist Atambayev of “usurping power” in the country and controlling the work of the parliament and the judiciary.
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The Ata-Meken leader also opposes a December 11 referendum which Atambayev’s critics believe will benefit the president and his ruling Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan.
Tekebayev argued that Atambayev could be impeached initially on the grounds that he “participates in the activities” of the ruling party, while the constitution says the president should not be involved in a party.
Tekebayev also said he expected that if impeached, Atambayev “could lose both his (presidential) status and his freedom.”
A parliamentary majority of two-thirds would be required to achieve Atambayev’s impeachment, which could open him up to prosecution.
Kyrgyzstan formed a new government this month after Atambayev’s party quit a ruling coalition over the opposition to the referendum of two parties, including Ata-Meken.
Tekebayev and two party colleagues have been targeted by a state agency under Atambayev’s control in a probe linking them to offshore activities in the Central American country of Belize.
The MPs have claimed the probe is politically motivated and the result of their opposition to the constitutional changes proposed in the referendum.
A “yes” vote in the referendum would strengthen the position of the ruling party, which has 38 seats in the legislature, because it would introduce supermajority requirements for votes of no confidence in the government.