Former energy minister becomes Kyrgyzstan's prime minister
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan (AP) -- A former energy and industry minister was named Kyrgyzstan's prime minister on Monday, the president's office said.
Igor Chudinov was nominated by President Kurmanbek Bakiyev's Ak Jol party, which dominates the parliament. The party's parliament members then approved the nomination, which the president affirmed in a decree.
Bakiyev's party swept this month's national elections, winning 71 of the 90 seats with the remainder going to parties friendly to Bakiyev.
Opposition groups -- who were excluded from the parliament by a new election law that Bakiyev recently pushed through -- contend the voting was unfair. Their complaints have raised the prospect of a new wave of protests in the country.
Kyrgyzstan, which hosts both U.S. and Russian air bases, has been hit with several waves of opposition protests since early 2005. The first wave drove out longtime President Askar Akayev and paved the way for Bakiyev to come to power; subsequent protests have been driven by dissatisfaction over the slow pace of reforms.
Instability could threaten the U.S. base, vital in the allied struggle against insurgents in Afghanistan, along with plans for roads, railroads and pipelines through this corner of energy-rich ex-Soviet Central Asia.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)