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Kyrgyzstan election odds favor strongman rule after 2020 turmoil

Prison-to-presidency populist Japarov expected to win Sunday as China watches

Kyrgyzstan presidential candidate Sadyr Japarov attends an election rally on Dec. 30. As recently as October, he was serving a 10-year sentence for organizing a kidnapping.   © Reuters

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan -- Kyrgyzstan goes to the polls on Sunday for two votes that look likely to cement the Central Asian state's dramatic political evolution over the last three months.

The presidential election is widely expected to confirm nationalist politician Sadyr Japarov's whirlwind journey from a prison cell to high office in less than 100 days. A simultaneous referendum on moving back to presidential rule could see the new leader amass unrestrained power.

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