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Opposition Forces In Kyrgyzstan Claim Power, Form Interim Government

 

Kyrgyzstan Violencei
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April 07, 2010
There have been deadly clashes between thousands of antigovernment protesters and the security services in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek. After at least 17 people have been killed and around 180 wounded, the authorities have declared a state of emergency.

WATCH: Deadly clashes between thousands of antigovernment protesters and security forces have left at least 40 people dead and 400 wounded. (Warning: Some graphic images, video: Reuters)

BISHKEK (RFE/RL) -- The five-year-old government of Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev appears to have been ousted by opposition forces following two days of clashes between antigovernment protesters and police that left as many as 40 people dead and 400 wounded.


Kyrgyz opposition leader Roza Otunbaeva told Reuters news agency in a phone call that she is now the head of what she called a temporary "caretaker government" after Bakiev was forced to flee the capital of Bishkek.


She said she wants Bakiev, who opposition members say may have flown to the southern city of Osh, to resign.

Otunbaeva is a former foreign minister who helped bring Bakiev to power in 2005 after the "Tulip Revolution" toppled President Askar Akaev. She said opposition plans call for her to "coordinate" an interim government for six months, until a new constitution is drafted.


Temir Sariev, the leader of opposition Ak-Shumkar Party, told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service how the resignation of Prime Minister Daniyar Usenov played out on April 7.

"We established an [interim] government which consists of 14 people," he said. "Then the members gathered and appointed Roza Otunbaeva as [interim] prime minister. The rest of them became members of the cabinet. Then they gave power to Otunbaeva and [myself] to negotiate with [former Prime Minister] Daniyar [Usenov] to obtain his resignation letter."
 

An injured protester is carried off.

Disputed Death Toll

The tumultuous conclusion of the last two days means this mountainous Central Asian republic of just over 5 million people has experienced its second revolution in just five years.


The scene in Bishkek on April 7 was one of chaos and clashes as opposition supporters seized control of security headquarters, a state television channel and other government buildings. Reports said crowds looted shops during the night and some buildings blazed into the early morning hours.


Kyrgyz Health Ministry officials confirmed at least 40 people were killed and around 400 wounded. But opposition leaders claimed there were as many as 100 deaths.


The violence stunned the international community and brought calls for restraint from the United States, EU, UN, and Russia. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who visited Bishkek last week as part of a Central Asian tour, said he was "shocked" by the deaths and injuries.


The chaos followed weeks of tension between the opposition and the government led by Bakiev, who opponents say has cracked down on independent media and fostered corruption.


Opposition figure Bolot Sherniazov, who has been named interim interior minister, told RFE/RL's Radio Azattyk in the early hours of April 8 that the new government was already preparing to investigate Bakiev and his government.
 

"The interim government has enough force and enough political will [to investigate President Kurmanbek Bakiev's deeds," he said. "Compared with [former President Askar] Akaev, [Bakiev's] government [has more blood on its hands]. Investigating the Bakiev government's crimes I think will take much longer."



Security Fears

RFE/RL correspondents in Bishkek say opposition leaders appeared on state-run television in the evening of April 7 to reassure the public that "people power" was now in control of the government.


But there was also another message. Azimbek Beknazarov, a member of the new interim government, said in a broadcast that the new government plans to make public the "names of all the officials who exploited Kyrgyzstan within the last 20 years."


He continued, "We need to punish them. We need to find their wealth even from the deep hiding [places] under the Earth. We must return the people's wealth to the people. Only after that might the people trust us."


Correspondents described the situation in Bishkek late on April 7 as "tense" and reported sporadic reports of looting in some parts of the city.


The Kyrgyz news agency Kabar said looters ransacked and set ablaze a house belonging to Bakiev's family.


Kyrgyzstan's border control service said it had closed its border with Kazakhstan late on April 7 at the request of the Kazakh authorities.


Ismail Isakov, an opposition politician and a former Kyrgyz defense minister, told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service that the security situation was stable. "There is no reason to conclude that security is not being maintained in the country," he said. "The people's power has been established everywhere."


In Washington, where Kyrgyzstan is considered a close and important ally, the tumult raised concern about the security of the U.S. military air base in the city of Manas, which the U.S. uses to support its operations in Afghanistan. 


U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said operations at the base appeared to be "functioning normally."

RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service contributed to this report

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by: Turgai from: Eurasia
April 07, 2010 20:18
Karimov, take note.

by: Jake from: Wisconsin
April 07, 2010 21:04
To anyone who's over there, keep safe.

Odd that we're not hearing more about Osh, other than Bakiyev (possibly) going there. Osh always seems to be at the center of the trouble when things go bad in Kyrgyzstan.

Thank you, RFE/RL, for your coverage. I recently skimmed the cable networks in vain hope of televised coverage of Kyrgyzstan. The closest I got was a ten-second snippet on the Katyn memorial in which the anchorwoman mentioned, and I quote, "Russian leader Vladimir Medvedev." Again, thank you.

by: amy from: kentucky
April 07, 2010 22:07
good riddance to the bakiev family.
In Response

by: Aibek
April 07, 2010 23:14
Bakiyev, Akayev, Isakov... its all the same.

Maybe now it is time for a new crowd to take power and start lining their pockets.
In Response

by: Bekjan from: Bishkek
April 08, 2010 05:24
I could be cynical too, but I choose to hope that people can learn from history... two revolutions in 5 years because of greed, selfishness, and corruption. Hopefully a worthy leader can emerge from the ashes. Not only that, the constitution needs to be changed and changes in how the government should function are necessary. Nepotism needs to be outlawed and there needs to be greater accountability, freedom of press, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, etc. In other words, real democracy.

by: Catherine Fitzpatrick from: New York
April 08, 2010 00:10
I hope the OSCE chair, as lacking in credibility as he is for this task, might intervene and get OSCE monitors and advisors into this situation fast. I hope the violence will be quelled and @Otunbayeva will be able to get some semblance of order and return to normal business.

But the very well trained troops here with their crackerjack positioning, and the well-supplied opposition with their bazookas let's me know there are other interested parties here on both sides and they may be helping. I'd like to hear more about all this from them to undertand more about what they are all about.
In Response

by: François Bovy from: Brussels
April 08, 2010 08:08
The OSCE and the UN lost the initiative and ralevance a while ago.
In Response

by: Catherine Fitzpatrick from: New York
April 09, 2010 07:16
While the OSCE and the UN may have lost "initiative and relevance," once can still ask for less interested parties than the EU, Russia, and the U.S. to intervene, and they can also use those institutions to cooperate to find a way to be helpful together. It's not naive to use these multilateral venues for such actions.

by: Mike from: Va
April 08, 2010 00:37
Turgai, Karimov should be taking a lot of notes. Instead he is reinforcing his border.

by: Alexandra Ukranova from: California
April 08, 2010 01:56
we lived in Kyrgyztan many of our relatives have died.

by: Alina from: USA
April 08, 2010 03:53
Any news? I cannot find much. There is morning now. CAnnot get connected to anyone ether.

by: Irina
April 08, 2010 04:45
Please clarify, how many people are dead. 40 or 65?

by: Johann from: USA
April 08, 2010 04:49
Who is behind this ?
Russian KGB ?
The American government, using CIA to secure US military bases ?
The Government of Georgia using muscular men from their security forces,
to create chaos, that they also tried in Ukraine last February ?
The Chinese government, trying to gain foothold and influence in Kyrgyzstan ?

by: MaGioZal from: São Paulo - SP - Brazil
April 08, 2010 05:27
Just another authoritarian leader busted.

Let’s hope that THIS TIME Kyrgyzstan evolves into a more democratic nation, since the prior Tulip Revolution did not live up to its original promises.
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