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Protesters Back Southern Kyrgyz Mayor


Osh Mayor Melis Myrzakmatov has challenged the central government.

Osh Mayor Melis Myrzakmatov has challenged the central government.

OSH, Kyrgyzstan -- Some 2,000 supporters of Melis Myrzakmatov, the mayor of Kyrgyzstan's southern city of Osh, gathered in front of his office after rumors spread that he had been dismissed, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz service reports.

The picketers demanded to see Myrzakmatov and receive assurances that he remains mayor of the city, the site of deadly clashes between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in June.

The presidential press service has not yet commented on the rumors of Myrzakmatov's dismissal.

RFE/RL's correspondent reports from the scene that some in the crowd at one point attempted to forcibly enter the building of the mayor's office, but police forces blocked them.

WATCH: The protesters demanded to meet with the mayor and threatened to continue their protest by marching to the capital, Bishkek.



Earlier today, Deputy Mayor Taalai Sabirov met with the picketers and told them that Myrzakmatov was in the capital, Bishkek, for talks with the interim government.

Myrzakmatov has expressed opposition to some decisions by the interim government and President Roza Otunbaeva since they came to power in April.

One of his major disagreements with Otunbaeva centers on the decision to deploy police from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Osh and to allow international investigations of the June violence that left nearly 400 people dead in the south of the country.

Myrzakmatov, 41, has been Osh's mayor since January 2009. He is a onetime close ally of former President Kurmanbek Bakiev, who the government has accused of orchestrating the June violence.
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