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Kyrgyz Opposition Protests Supreme Court Decision

Bishkek, 19 January 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Around 400 people gathered in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek today to protest yesterday's Supreme Court ruling that upholds a decision to bar former ambassadors from running in upcoming parliamentary elections.

Members from all of Kyrgyzstan's opposition blocs participated in today's rally. Topchubek Turgunaliev, leader of the Erkindik (Freedom) Party, led protesters in a call for President Askar Akaev's resignation:

"After assessing the current situation, we decided to start collecting signatures on 1 February, from the whole of Kyrgyzstan, from both the south and north, from villages and towns, demanding that Akaev resign from power immediately! Is that right, fellow countrymen?" Turgunaliev asked. Protesters answered: "Yes, that is right! Akaev, go away!"

Protesters also want to see the sacking of top electoral officials.

The opposition wants to see changes to the election law that will abolish a recently introduced requirement that says political candidates must have lived in the country for five years prior to elections. The law bars some diplomats who had been serving abroad from registering as candidates.

The opposition's move to amend the law comes after four former ambassadors -- Roza Otunbaeva, Usen Sydykov, Medetkan Sherimkulov, and Mambetjunus Abylov -- were refused registration for the 27 February parliamentary election. All four are members of the opposition.

(RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service)