Kubanychbek Zhumaliev yesterday replaced Apas Jumagulov as prime minister of Kyrgyzstan. Jumagulov, 64, had held that office since 1993. He resigned on March 24, citing his age. President Askar Akaev nominated Zhumaliev as the new prime minister the same day. The parliament approved the nomination yesterday by a margin of sixty-four to one.
Zhumaliev, born in 1956, earned advanced degrees in radioelectronics and physics from Russian and Kyrgyz polytechnichal schools. He was a postgraduate student at Kyrgyzstan’s Polytechnichal Institute while Akaev taught physics there, and has been personally close to Akaev since. Zhumaliev headed the president’s Science and Technology Committee, became first deputy chief of the presidential staff in 1995, and chief of that staff in 1996.
Addressing the parliament to introduce his nominee, Akaev oddly remarked that Zhumaliev "lacked experience in economic affairs" but would gain such experience while on the job. Akaev listed the top priorities of the executive branch as stimulating direct foreign investment, improving social protection and accelerating administrative reform. Zhumaliev, for his part, outlined an economic program envisaging growth in the hydropower and, not surprisingly, the radioelectronics industry. (Russian agencies, March 24)
Zhumaliev is a native of Osh region in the south of the country. The region has a large ethnic Uzbek element, and Islam is more deeply rooted there than is the case in other regions. Ever since Kyrgyzstan became independent, the government has kept a watchful eye on that region and has also been preoccupied with strengthening links between the north and the south of the country.
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