Archive for Thursday, April 8, 2010

Opposition says it leads Kyrgystan after uprising

April 8, 2010


— An opposition coalition in Kyrgyzstan said it has formed an interim government that will rule the turbulent Central Asian nation for six months.

Opposition leader Roza Otunbayeva said today she will head the government that dissolved the parliament and will take up legislative duties.

She told a news conference that the new government will conduct negotiations with President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who left the capital and is presumably hiding in the central Jalal-Abad region.

The opposition seized Kyrgyz government headquarters today following clashes between protesters and security forces that have left 68 dead.

Otunbayeva said her government will amend laws on elections and political parties that Bakiyev changed to ensure the his supporters’ domination in parliament.

Bakiyev, who came to power in a similar popular uprising five years ago, was said to have fled to the southern city of Osh.

No police guarded the government headquarters, and hundreds of jubilant but calm residents stood outside, including some who had climbed up on an armored personnel carrier. Others were walking freely through the building known as the White House.

The opposition has called for the closure of the U.S. air base in Manas outside the capital, which is an essential transit point for supplies essential to the war in nearby Afghanistan.

U.S. military officials said Kyrgyzstan officials halted flights for 12 hours on Wednesday at the Manas air base, but the suspension was not expected to impact military operations because fewer flights were scheduled during overnight hours.

Some semblance of order returned to Bishkek, where until the early hours of the morning gunfire could be heard as marauding, looting mobs rampaged through the city.

Almost no government building was left untouched. Some were set on fire or had windows smashed. A three-story Chinese trading house was ablaze today. The state TV channel was overrun and looted.

On Wednesday, protesters who were called into the streets by opposition parties stormed government buildings in Bishkek and battled with police amid volleys of tear gas. Groups of elite officers then fired with live ammunition.

After nightfall, the opposition and its supporters appeared to gain the upper hand. An AP reporter saw opposition leader Keneshbek Duishebayev sitting in the office of the chief of the National Security Agency, Kyrgyzstan’s successor to the Soviet KGB. Duishebayev issued orders on the phone to people he said were security agents, and he also gave orders to a uniformed special forces commando.

Duishebayev, the former interior minister, told the AP that “we have created units to restore order” on the streets. Many of the opposition leaders were once allies of Bakiyev, in some cases former ministers or diplomats.


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