Opponents have labelled him a dangerous demagogueJan 11th 2021A CAMPAIGN ad for Sadyr Japarov, the newly elected president of Kyrgyzstan, shows him
A CAMPAIGN ad for Sadyr Japarov, the newly elected president of Kyrgyzstan, shows him galloping across a snowy expanse on a white steed, coattails flying in the slipstream. The message is clear: Mr Japarov is a knight in shining armour (or at least in traditional Kyrgyz garb, which he wore on the campaign trail), racing to save the turbulent Central Asian nation, which has seen three popular uprisings in 15 years, including one this past autumn that put him on the path to power.
“I’m not going to repeat the mistakes of previous administrations,” vowed Mr Japarov in an interview in his campaign headquarters at midnight on election day, January 10th. Preliminary results showed him storming to victory with 79% of the vote, albeit on a turnout of 40%. It was venality and injustice that had caused past leaders to be overthrown, he said. “Why repeat those mistakes? I’m going to rule fairly.”
Yet Mr Japarov was an eager participant in one of those discredited governments, toppled in 2010. Moreover, his recent rise involved all manner of legal and constitutional contortions. He was serving a prison sentence for kidnapping—a conviction he says was politically motivated—when protests first broke out over a tainted election presided over by his predecessor, Sooronbay Jeyenbekov, in October. A mob freed him, and helped…