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June 25, 2017

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Three Kyrgyz parties agree to form coalition government

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan--Three Kyrgyz political parties agreed on Monday to form a coalition to run the volatile Central Asian republic, two weeks after the government collapsed under the strain of a shrinking economy and graft allegations.

The new coalition was made up of three of the four parties in the previous administration — the Social-Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan, Ata-Meken and Ar-Namys.

It excluded the Respublika party of former Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov, who resigned on Saturday.

The last government collapsed on Aug. 22 after Ata-Meken and Ar-Namys walked out, protesting against economic contraction and accusing Babanov of not doing enough to tackle widespread corruption.

Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia's only parliamentary democracy, is backed by the United States but viewed with suspicion by former imperial master Russia. Both countries have military air bases in the country.

The divided and impoverished former Soviet republic lies along a major drug trafficking route from Afghanistan and has suffered periodic bouts of ethnic violence.

Coalition members said they had identified Zhantoro Satybaldiyev, head of the presidential administration and free from any party affiliation, as their chosen candidate for the premiership. A parliamentary vote on his candidacy is expected this week.

The Social-Democratic Party has been a leading proponent of the parliamentary system that replaced two decades of failed authoritarian rule since independence from the Soviet Union.

The coalition members did not outline any new policies on Monday, but have previously stated their ambition to stamp out corruption and attract investment.

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