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Kyrgyz Protesters Throw Eggs At World Bank Offices


http://gdb.rferl.org/FA08FA17-6C63-4DEA-83A3-7C23A800A3AC_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/FA08FA17-6C63-4DEA-83A3-7C23A800A3AC_mw800_mh600.jpg A figure symbolizing the World Bank and IMF being burned in Bishkek today (RFE/RL) BISHKEK, December 6, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Demonstrators today threw eggs at the building that hosts the World Bank mission in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan.


They were protesting against tentative government plans to join a debt-relief program cosponsored by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and known as Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC).


This was the third such protest rally since HIPC talks started in Bishkek on November 29.


The protesters, who numbered a few dozens, burned a scarecrow to which a picture of World Bank Director Paul Wolfowitz was pinned. They then marched toward the nearby National Bank building.


The expencidency of Kyrgyzstan joining HIPC had divided the country's political elite.


Authorities claim the program will help write off a substantial part of Kyrgyzstan's external debt, which currently stands at an estimated $2 billion.


But critics say the government should rather concentrate its efforts on reducing poverty and attracting foreign investors. They also fear that joining HIPC would give international financial institutions too much control over the economy.


President Kurmanbek Bakiev on December 4 urged lawmakers to not oppose HIPC as a matter of principle and thoroughly examine its pros and cons.


State Secretary Adakhan Madumarov today criticized journalists for offering too large a platform to those who oppose joining HIPC.


Addressing a gathering of students at Kyrgyz State University, he blamed the country's media for "dividing society" on that issue.


(RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service, 24.kg, Kabar)

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