About 1,300 candidates from 21 political parties are contesting 90 parliamentary seats in Sunday's vote as tensions rise in the country after 15 people detained over an alleged plot to overthrow the government.

Polls show that Japarov's government still enjoys popular support for the election.
Polls show that Japarov's government still enjoys popular support for the election. (VYACHESLAV OSELEDKO / AFP)

Kyrgyzstan has headed to parliamentary polls as tensions simmer after claims of a plot to unseat President Sadyr Japarov who rose to power in post-vote unrest last year.

Polls show that Japarov's government still enjoys popular support for the election on Sunday.

However, critics say the recent jailing of 15 potential rivals and a constitutional overhaul earlier this year show he is repeating the mistakes of predecessors.

In the capital Bishkek, there was little sign of excitement about the vote, which is expected to deliver a 90-seat parliament largely loyal to Japarov.

Japarov's cash-strapped government also faces a difficult future, with a winter energy crisis looming, living costs rising and trade with next-door China hammered by the pandemic.

Polling stations open at 0200 GMT (8:00 AM) on Sunday with first results expected shortly after counting starts at 8:00 PM.

READ MORE: Kyrgyzstan's security services detain 15 in 'coup plot' ahead of vote

Complaints of 'administrative pressure'

About 1,300 candidates from 21 political parties are contesting 90 parliamentary seats in Sunday's vote under a mixed system where some seats are assigned to constituencies and others distributed between parties.

Kyrgyzstan's most recent round of instability came after parliamentary elections a year ago, when losing parties protested a vote they said was rigged in favour of parties close to then-president Sooronbay Jeenbekov.

The vote results were annulled and current leader Japarov, freed from prison during the unrest, was elected president in January.

After overseeing constitutional changes that stripped away single-term limits for sitting presidents and strengthened his office, Japarov pledged to "show the world" Kyrgyzstan can hold free and fair elections. But opposition candidates have complained of administrative pressure.

The state committee for national security said on Friday it was detaining 15 people involved in what it claimed was a plot to overthrow the government involving "lawmakers and high-ranking former officials". The statement did not mention whom authorities had arrested.

Japarov does not have a party in the race, although several well-funded alliances are headed by politicians loyal to him.

At a meeting of the security council on Friday, Japarov acknowledged that the country could face an energy collapse at "any moment", blaming corruption and outdated equipment in the hydropower-fed sector.

The outcome of Sunday’s vote will be keenly watched by close partner Russia, which pledged support for the new government after initially criticising the political chaos that brought Japarov to power.

READ MORE: Kyrgyz voters opt for more presidential powers in referendum

Source: TRTWorld and agencies