Kyrgyz opposition forms interim government, president refuses to step down

08:26, April 09, 2010      

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Kyrgyz opposition parties on Thursday formed an interim coalition government, while President Kurmanbek Bakiyev refused to step down after clashes that left at least 75 people dead and another 1,000 injured.

The interim government led by former Foreign Minister Roza Otunbayeva would replace the government of Bakiyev, who fled the capital to southern Kyrgyzstan after a day of bloody unrest.

Otunbayeva announced the new government at a press conference inside the parliament building, saying she would be the prime minister. She said the new government controlled four of the seven provinces and called on Bakiyev to resign.

The new government would rule the impoverished Central Asian nation of 5 million people for six months before calling new elections, Otunbayeva said.

Otunbayeva, leader of the Social Democratic faction, also said that the parliament has been dissolved.

Kyrgyz opposition parties have taken over responsibilities of the president and the government after forming an interim coalition government led by Otunbayeva, an opposition leader said Thursday.

The previous government has resigned, the opposition leader said.

Meanwhile, Bakiyev refused to step down and said the opposition should be responsible for the deteriorating situation.

Bakiyev said in a statement published by the 24. kg news agency that "I declare that I did not resign nor do I resign as president."

However, he also admitted that he was not able to alter the current political situation.

Bakiyev said in the statement that he would be responsible for the bloody clashes in the country if the violence was proved triggered by him.

"I am ready to bear liability for the recent tragic events if it is proved through an objective investigation, not using presidential immunity as a cover," Bakiyev said in the statement emailed to the Kyrgyz news agency.

Bakiyev in fact has no power to control the situation in the central Asian state, according to the report.

The president said if the situation in the country continued to deteriorate opposition leaders must be responsible, the report said.

During an interview with the Russian radio station Echo Moskvy on Thursday, Bakiyev said that "foreign forces" intervened in the violence in his country.

It's impossible to launch such an coordinated action without intervention of outside forces, said Bakiyev.

"I am an elected president and do not concede defeat," he added.

Thousands of protesters clashed with security forces throughout the country in the past two days, driving out local governments and seizing government headquarters in Bishkek. Most government buildings in the capital, as well as Bakiyev's houses, were looted or set on fire and two major markets were burned down.

The health minister said at least 75 people had been killed and some 1,000 others injured in the unrest Wednesday. But opposition leaders put the figure of death toll at 100.

The area hosting embassies of foreign countries in Bishkek was also attacked by hundreds of people Thursday, officials said.

Turat Madalbekov, the city's military commandant,told reporters that the area had hosted the offices of several international delegations, as well as the residence of former Prime Minister Daniyar Usenov.

"The crowd is crushing residences. We are trying to stop them and push the assailants out of the diplomatic town," Madalbekov said. No casualties were reported so far in the violence.

Xinhua reporters at the scene saw that some people had begun to loot.

The Chinese embassy to Kyrgyzstan, which was also located in southern Bishkek but far from the attacked area, was confirmed as safe at present.

China on Thursday said it was "deeply concerned" about the situation in its small western neighbor, echoing comments by Russia and the United States.

There has been no report of Chinese casualties in the ongoing unrest in Kyrgyzstan, Wang Kaiwen, the Chinese ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, told Xinhua on Thursday.

However, some Chinese businessmen suffered property losses because their shops were damaged in the rioting, Wang said.

"Based on situations we have, some of those who run businesses or study or work at Chinese-funded enterprises are all safe and sound to date," Wang said.

Otunbayeva said a Kyrgyzstan-U.S. contract for a U.S. military base in her country would not be affected for the moment by the regime change.

"Its status quo will remain in place," she said, "Give us time and we will listen to all the sides and solve everything."

The nation is home to to a key U.S. military base supporting the fighting in Afghanistan that the opposition has said it wants to close. The country also hosts a Russian military base.

Another opposition leader, former defense minister Ismail Isakov, told reporters that all senior officials of the Bakiyev government have been banned from leaving the country.

Isakov also said the new government has won the support of the military and the interior ministry.

The governor of the southern Kyrgyz state of Jalalabad told the Ferghana news agency, a Kyrgyz agency registered in Russia, that Bakiyev, who was first elected president in 2005 and re-elected in 2009, had resigned.

Bakiyev, who was born in 1949 in Jalalabad state, fled to southern Kyrgyzstan after the presidential palace was stormed and occupied by opposition supporters Wednesday night.

Since coming to power in 2005 amid street protests known as the Tulip Revolution, Bakiyev had ensured a measure of stability but the opposition said he did so at the expense of democratic standards while enriching himself and his family.

He gave his relatives, including his son, top government and economic posts and faced the same accusations of corruption and cronyism that led to the ouster of his predecessor, Askar Akayev. Many protesters were also outraged at huge increases in prices for electricity and gas heating that went into effect in January.

Otunbayeva promised the new government would slash by 50 percent the current fees for public services including water, electricity and heat.

She also said the opposition was looking for Bakiyev to discuss power transition but has failed to establish contact with the president.

Source: Xinhua


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