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Kyrgyz PM to step down as acting president, run in election

FILE PHOTO: Kyrgyzstan's Prime Minister Sadyr Japarov delivers a speech during an extraordinary session of parliament in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan October 16, 2020. REUTERS/Vladimir Pirogov/File Photo

BISHKEK (Reuters) - Kyrgyz Prime Minister Sadyr Japarov said on Thursday he would step down as acting president of the Central Asian nation in the coming days in order to run in the January 10 presidential election.

Parliamentary speaker Talant Mamytov, a close ally of the prime minister, will take over as acting head of state in line with the constitution, Japarov told a news briefing.

The former Soviet republic, known for its political volatility, is closely allied with Moscow and hosts a Russian military airbase. Its constitution bars caretaker leaders from running in the presidential elections that they oversee.

Japarov, a 51-year-old nationalist politician, came to power after violent protests over a parliamentary election last month toppled the government of President Sooronbai Jeenbekov.

He had initially planned to delay the presidential election until after a planned constitutional reform, but Thursday’s announcement indicated that was no longer an option.

Protests have toppled three Kyrgyz leaders over the last 15 years, but Japarov has said that last month’s revolt would change nothing in Bishkek’s “strategic” relations with Moscow.

On Thursday, he promised not to contest the results of the January vote in the event of his loss and to stop his supporters from taking to the streets.

“We need a clean vote,” he said. “(Rigged votes) were the reason why we have had three revolutions.”

Reporting by Olga Dzyubenko; Editing by Gareth Jones; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov, Editing by William Maclean