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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Isabekov to Head Up New Kyrgyz Cabinet

ReutersPrime Minister Isabekov
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan -- Kyrgyzstan's parliament approved a loyalist to the president as the country's new prime minister Monday, ending two weeks of political wrangling that observers had feared could lead to new instability.

Lawmakers voted 57-4 for Agriculture Minister Azim Isabekov, widely seen as a President Kurmanbek Bakiyev loyalist. He was also previously the deputy head of Bakiyev's administration.

Isabekov was nominated by Bakiyev on Friday after lawmakers blocked for a second time his attempt to reinstate former Prime Minister Felix Kulov as head of the Cabinet. Kulov resigned last month amid disagreements about the extent of presidential powers.

Opposition lawmakers criticized Kulov for a lack of independence from Bakiyev, while pro-Bakiyev lawmakers feared he was still harboring presidential ambitions. It was unclear whether Kulov would remain in the government or not.

Before the vote, Isabekov pledged "not to engage in politics."

"I'm not seeking to become president," he said. "We, the Cabinet, will only work on raising people's living standards."

Political infighting has plagued the former Soviet republic since the March 2005 ouster of longtime President Askar Akayev, who was replaced by Bakiyev the opposition leader.