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Otunbaeva Visits Osh Amid Protests Against OSCE Police Deployment


Anger continues in southern Kyrgyzstan, where the June violence was centered and where some are opposing the OSCE plan to send in police advisers.

Anger continues in southern Kyrgyzstan, where the June violence was centered and where some are opposing the OSCE plan to send in police advisers.

Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbaeva is in the southern city of Osh, where she met with the city mayor as well as local residents.

Otunbaeva's meeting took place in the offices of the mayor, Melis Myrzakmatov, whom Otunbaeva has criticized for his handling of last month's ethnic violence in the city.

Her visit comes as Osh City Council on July 30 passed a resolution opposing Bishkek's agreement to an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) deployment of some 50 international police advisers to southern Kyrgyzstan.

Otunbaeva criticized the resolution, saying council members didn't understand the real purpose of the agreement.

Earlier on July 30, she met with a local youth group opposed to the deployment of the unarmed police advisers.

The president sought to explain to them the significance of the deployment. She said the international police team will be there to advise law-enforcement agencies in providing security and restoring stability in the south.

The southern provinces of Jalal-Abad and Osh were hit by bloody interethnic clashes that killed more than 350 people and forced some 400,000 from their homes last month. The attacks largely targeted ethnic Uzbeks, the largest ethnic minority in the south.

Otunbaeva called on the young activists not to listen to "provocations by forces that want to exploit the situation to disrupt parliamentary elections scheduled for October."

She urged the youth to help the government to conduct the elections, and issued this warning.

"I think we, Kyrgyzstan, must somehow come out from this crisis. If we don't find a way [out of this crisis], then we will be fighting each other, as Russians say, 'an eye for an eye,' and Kyrgyzstan will become Chechnya. We are only one step away from a partisan war now," Otunbaeva said.

Interfax news agency quoted the leader of the youth group, Konurbek Junusbekov, as saying the group would insist Kyrgyzstan refuse the deployment of the foreign police team.

"The president promised to study our demands and to respond us in a few days," Junusbekov told Interfax. "If our demands are not supported, we intend to continue with protest actions."

Demonstrations


Two demonstrations took place in Osh and the capital Bishkek on July 29 against the deployment.

On July 22 the OSCE Permanent Council agreed to deploy an international advisory police team in southern Kyrgyzstan to assist Bishkek in reducing interethnic tensions and restoring public confidence among the communities. The OSCE says the police team would not be armed and won't have an executive police mandate.

Human rights groups, most notably Human Rights Watch (HRW), had urged the OSCE to deploy an international police force to prevent further destabilization in the region. They accused Kyrgyz law-enforcement agencies of arbitrary arrests and torture, primarily of ethnic Uzbeks. In a report on July 14, HRW said it has documented some 30 such cases.

Otunbaeva has agreed to the OSCE proposal to send the advisory police team to southern Kyrgyzstan. The plan was initially announced on July 16 at the OSCE Foreign Ministers' meeting in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

During her trip to Osh, she also met with head of the visiting delegation of the Organization of Islamic Conference.

Al-Mannan Al-Bakhid said the OIC will take part in reconciliation and reconstruction efforts and will also provide education and healthcare assistance.

compiled from reports from RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service and agencies
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