In 2017, Atambayev became the first elected president to hand over power peacefully in Kyrgyzstan [File: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters]

Parliamentarians in Kyrgyzstan have voted overwhelmingly to lift the immunity of former President Almazbek Atambayev, paving the way for his prosecution that could provoke a political crisis in the fragile Central Asian country.

Kyrgyzstan’s parliament, loyal to Atambayev’s handpicked successor Sooronbai Jeenbekov, voted 103 to six in favour of lifting that protection on Thursday.

Prosecutors accuse the 62-year-old Atambayev of making illegal land purchases and of corruption, but he previously enjoyed immunity from criminal prosecution as a former head of state. 

The moves against the former president have sparked fears that a major power struggle in Kyrgyzstan could be on the horizon.

The poverty-stricken country

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