On 10 January, Sadyr Japarov won the presidential election by a landslide. The presidential election followed the October parliamentary election that had to be cancelled following large protests during which Sadyr Japarov was released from jail by his supporters. Days after, former President Sooronbay Jeenbekov stepped down and Sadyr Japarov was appointed prime minister and acted as president. This was the third time since Kyrgyzstan’s independence that a president was overthrown by protesters.
Alongside the presidential election, the electors also approved the organisation of another referendum to vote on a new constitution that will give more power to the presidency. This second referendum on constitutional reforms will be organised later on this year, tentatively in March.
Mr Japarov has pledged to maintain good relations with Russia, which has a military base in the country and is the main host of Kyrgyz migrants – and hence the main source of remittances, which account for more than 45% of current account receipts. He has also pledged to prepare a new draft constitution. The planned constitutional reforms, if successfully approved and implemented, would increase the power of the president and transform the political system into a more authoritarian one. It is not the first time that the constitution is changed. The latest constitutional changes, establishing a parliamentary republic, were approved in 2010 following the ousting of President Bakiyev. Hence, the new constitutional amendment is no gage for more political stability. Indeed, clan rivalry, ethnic divisions, endemic corruption, cronyism and related political purges are recurring themes, which carry risk of renewed unrest. On top of that, the economy has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic and political instability.
In the past, Sadyr Japarov vowed to nationalise the Kumtor gold mine, which accounts for almost 10% of GDP and more than 10% of current account receipts. Production at Kutmor is expected to cease in 2026. Whereas the president has said that he no longer wants to nationalise the mine, he is still seeking a better distribution of the profit. In this context, the outlook for expropriation risk is stable as it is not the first time that a president expresses such a demand. That being said, any steps aiming at expropriating the mine would lead Credendo to review its classification for the expropriation risk, which is currently in category 5/7.
Analyst: Pascaline della Faille - P.dellaFaille@credendo.com