From Hiding, Head of Central Asia’s Only Democracy Says He’s Quitting

From Hiding, Head of Central Asia’s Only Democracy Says He’s Quitting

After more than a week in hiding following a disputed election, the president of Kyrgyzstan — Central Asia’s only democracy — on Thursday announced his plans to resign, saying he did not want to go down in history as a leader “who shed blood and shot at his own citizens.”

In a statement issued from an undisclosed location, the president, Sooronbai Jeenbekov, said he had “taken a decision to resign,” though he did not specify whether he had already quit.

Just a few hours earlier, Mr. Jeebenkov had assured a delegation of former senior officials and political veterans that he had no plans to step down and would stand firm against a power grab widely believed to be backed by criminal elements.

Feliks Kulov, a former prime minister who met with the president on Thursday morning, voiced concern over Mr. Jeenbekov’s abrupt change of heart, speculating in a post on Facebook that the leader had been “presented with a choice: voluntary resignation or a real war.”