Kyrgyzstan profile

President: Almazbek Atambayev

Kyrgyz President Atambayev Almazbek Atambayev urges unity among political forces

Almazbek Atambayev, a businessman and former prime minister, won more than 60% of votes in the October 2011 presidential election, trouncing his nationalist rivals.

His inauguration in December marked the first peaceful transfer of presidential power in Kyrgyzstan's post-Communist history.

At his swearing-in, he declared a "new page" in Kyrgyz history and urged unity among political camps. Without stability, he said, Kyrgyzstan had no future.

Mr Atambayev wants to guide Kyrgyzstan towards a Russia-dominated Customs Union zone, and has spoken of Kyrgyzstan's "common future" with its neighbours and Russia.

He said after his election that the US air base at Manas - a logistics hub for the Afghan conflict - should be shut down when its lease expires in 2014.

Mr Atambayev's predecessor, Roza Otunbayeva, led an interim government which was formed after ex-president Kurmanbek Bakiyev was ousted in a popular uprising in April 2010.

She presided over a tumultuous period, which included deadly clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and minority ethnic Uzbek in the south. But she pursued constitutional reforms which made parliament the main decision-making body, and earned international praise for agreeing to relinquish power.

Mr Atambayev, who was deputy head of the interim government, became prime minister in December 2010 when his Social Democratic Party formed a coalition following the first parliamentary elections under the revised constitution.

He served briefly as prime minister under Mr Bakiyev in 2007, but soon fell out with the former leader.

Almazbek Atambayev was 55 when he became president. He made his fortune in the 1990s after setting up a publishing business. His support base is in the Russian-leaning north of Kyrgyzstan.

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