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Opposition parties in Kyrgyzstan failed to form a new government Wednesday as they jostled over the replacement of the prime minister one day after he resigned and the country's parliamentary election was annulled.
Prime Minister Kubatbek Boronov's resignation has isolated President Sooronbai Jeenbekov, who called on all parties Wednesday to begin negotiations that he reiterated his willingness to mediate.
Negotiators from eight parties tried to overcome their differences late Wednesday at government headquarters, but several large factions did not join the talks while two rival candidates to be Boronov's successor emerged.
A group of legislators nominated former lawmaker Sadyr Zhaparov on Tuesday night, but neither Boronov nor Jeenbekov endorsed him, and several opposition parties rejected his nomination.
A young businessman, Tilek Toktogaziyev, emerged as another candidate Wednesday after being nominated by one of several "coordination councils" formed by opposition parties and activists since Monday.
Rallies in capital
Supporters of both candidates rallied in the capital, Bishkek, as lawmakers met again Wednesday evening to discuss the political chaos that erupted this week.
Kyrgyzstan's Central Election Commission annulled results of the country's parliamentary election Tuesday as opposition groups took control of government buildings while protesting the election.
Members of several opposition parties said they planned to oust Jeenbekov and establish a new government in the strategically vital Central Asian country that hosts a Russian air base and a large gold mine controlled by Canada.
The commission's invalidation of Sunday's election followed mass protests that erupted in Bishkek and other cities, during which hundreds were injured and one person died.
Commission chief Nurzhan Shaildabekova told the Interfax news agency the election results were annulled to "prevent tension" in the country.
Kyrgyzstan authorities said the election handed most seats to two parties linked to the ruling elites. Western observers said the election appeared to have been rigged by purchasing votes and other violations.
Ata Meken opposition party member Zhanar Akayev told the Kyrgyz language service at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that a new prime minister and the people's government needed to be appointed, followed by "a popular election."
The former Soviet republic, which borders China, is a close ally of Russia that has for years been the subject of geopolitical competition between Moscow, Beijing and Washington.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that Russian officials were communicating with all sides in the conflict and voiced hope the democratic process would soon be restored.
China's foreign ministry said Beijing was very concerned about the political uncertainty and the unrest.