Kyrgyzstan's parliament turned down by a majority of votes Thursday the candidacy of Kulov to be the new prime minister, as proposed by the president, following a standoff between the government and lawmakers.
To be approved, Kulov had to gather 38 votes in the 75-seat parliament. During the vote, only 23 of the 65 deputies present backed acting his re-appointment.
A former political prisoner, Kulov, 58, came to power along with President Kurmanbek Bakiev on the back of a violent uprising in March 2005, which ousted previous President Askar Akayev. Kulov said Thursday the result of the vote was hardly surprising for him, but added that he was confident he would eventually return to the post.
"We foresaw this result. The president has promised he would continue nominating me, and I expect a positive result," Kulov said, adding, however, that he had had a moment of worry about his fate.
Under the new Kyrgyz Constitution adopted in late December, parliament will face dissolution if it rejects the president-nominated candidate for premier three times in a row.
In November 2006, Kyrgyzstan's capital Bishkek was swept by mass opposition protests demanding a new Constitution granting more power to parliament and seeking the resignation of the Bakiyev-Kulov leadership.
Lawmakers pressed the president to sign a new Constitution November 8 that slashed the authority of the president and government in favor of the legislature, angering Bakiyev's and Kulov's supporters and also leading them into the streets. The document was a compromise between the opposition and pro-government lawmakers.
Kulov's Cabinet resigned December 19. Amid continuing protests, President Bakiyev said he would dissolve parliament, forcing it to backtrack and change the Constitution once again.
The final version of the fundamental law was adopted December 30 and came into force Tuesday, restoring the president and the premier's right to form the government and requiring the parliament's approval only for the candidacy of the prime minister.
Both Russia and the U.S. maintain airbases in the impoverished Republic of Kyrgyzstan.