September 3, 2012 / 11:04 AM / 6 years ago

Three Kyrgyz parties agree new coalition government

BISHKEK (Reuters) - Three Kyrgyz political parties agreed on Monday to form a coalition to run the volatile Central Asian republic, two weeks after the government collapsed under the strain of a shrinking economy and graft allegations.

The new coalition was made up of three of the four parties in the previous administration - the Social-Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan, Ata-Meken and Ar-Namys.

It excluded the Respublika party of former prime minister Omurbek Babanov, who resigned on Saturday.

The last government collapsed on August 22 after Ata-Meken and Ar-Namys walked out, protesting against economic contraction and accusing Babanov of not doing enough to tackle widespread corruption.

Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia’s only parliamentary democracy, is backed by the United States but viewed with suspicion by former imperial master Russia. Both countries have military air bases in the country.

The divided and impoverished former Soviet republic lies along a major drug trafficking route from Afghanistan and has suffered periodic bouts of ethnic violence.

Coalition members said they had identified Zhantoro Satybaldiyev, head of the presidential administration and free from any party affiliation, as their chosen candidate for the premiership. A parliamentary vote on his candidacy is expected this week.

The Social-Democratic Party has been a leading proponent of the parliamentary system that replaced two decades of failed authoritarian rule since independence from the Soviet Union.

The coalition members did not outline any new policies on Monday, but have previously stated their ambition to stamp out corruption and attract investment.

Kyrgyzstan’s economy relies heavily on output from the Kumtor gold mine, owned by Canadian miner Centerra Gold, and remittances from migrant workers. Per capita GDP is less than a tenth of that in oil-rich neighbour Kazakhstan.

When they withdrew from the previous coalition, deputies from Ata-Meken said Kyrgyzstan risked defaulting on its $2.8 billion foreign debt.

The new three-party coalition will make up 67 of the country’s 120 parliamentary deputies. Ata-Meken leader Omurbek Tekebayev said he hoped another 15 deputies from the two opposition parties in parliament could be persuaded to join.

Writing by Robin Paxton; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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