Kyrgyzstan’s prosecutors charged a former president with corruption on Tuesday, paving the way for parliament to lift his immunity as a protracted power struggle threatens to roil the fragile ex-Soviet state.
The state prosecutor’s office said it had sent the charge for consideration by parliament, which could strip Almazbek Atambayev of immunity in the coming days.
Lawmakers, who are mostly loyal to Atambayev’s successor Sooronbai Jeenbekov, last week asked the prosecutor to consider six accusations that could justify prosecuting Atambayev.
One hundred lawmakers supported the motion, with five voting against.
If 81 lawmakers vote to strip Atambayev of immunity, he can be prosecuted for crimes committed while in office.
Atambayev and Jeenbekov were once allies, arriving in power together after a popular uprising in 2010.
Atambayev campaigned for Jeenbekov to succeed him as president during elections in 2017 that were heralded as the first peaceful transfer of power between two elected presidents.
But the pair fell out and traded insults in public after Jeenbekov consolidated power and oversaw the arrests of several Atambayev-era appointees.
Atambayev, 62, was unable to run in the elections himself due to a constitutional clause that prevents sitting presidents running for consecutive terms.
The constitution was amended in 2010 after two authoritarian presidents were ousted from power by street protests in the space of five years.
Muslim-majority Kyrgyzstan, an impoverished country of six million people, looks to Russia to bolster its security and China for trade and investment.
The mountainous country’s economy is heavily dependent on the output of a single gold mine along with agricultural exports.