Kyrgyzstan accused Kazakhstan on Wednesday of interfering in its Oct. 15 election after Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev met a Kyrgyz opposition presidential candidate, underlining tensions between the Central Asian neighbors. Nazarbayev’s office said on Tuesday he had met the candidate, Omurbek Babanov, a leader of the Kyrgyz opposition Respublika-Ata Zhurt party, in Kazakhstan, and had expressed readiness to work “with a new president in whom the Kyrgyz people will put their trust”. The Kyrgyz foreign ministry said it viewed the meeting and Nazarbayev’s comments as an expression of support for Babanov, 47, one of the main challengers to the ruling party’s candidate.
“The Kyrgyz side regards those comments and the wide coverage of this meeting by the Kazakh side as an attempt to influence the choice of the people of Kyrgyzstan and interfere in the domestic affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic,” it said in a note handed to the Kazakh ambassador in Bishkek.
Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev is barred by the constitution from running for a second term. His Social Democratic party, which leads a majority coalition in parliament, is backing Sooronbai Jeenbekov, who stepped down as prime minister last month in order to run for the presidency.