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Tense Situation Reported In Kyrgyz City

Police gathering at the site of a protest in Kyrgyzstan on 18 March Osh, Kyrgyzstan; 20 March 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Tensions are reported high in the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh, where hundreds of opposition supporters are continuing to occupy the local administration building as part of protests demanding new parliamentary elections and the resignation of President Askar Akaev.

Kyrgyz authorities have described the action under way in Osh as illegal, and Interior Minister Bakirdin Subanbekov is reported to have gone to the city to coordinate the work of law-enforcement bodies.

No actions by the security forces are reported to have been taken against the demonstrators so far. Thousands of people attended a rally in Osh yesterday as an opposition congress, called a kurultai, set up a "people's council" in a challenge to the local administration.

Anvar Artykov, who was elected chairman of the council, told RFE/RL that the demonstrators seek the resignation of President Akaev and the annulment of the recent parliamentary elections: "We will keep this authority until all of our demands and problems will be resolved. We are an [interim] power. We can talk about the fulfillment of our tasks when the current government will be replaced by a government that is trusted by the nation."

The opposition, which received only a handful of seats in the newly elected parliament, charges that the elections were rigged in favor of the government.

A group of Georgian parliament members attended the Osh opposition congress as observers. Opposition demonstrations have also been taking place elsewhere in Kyrgyzstan, including in Bishkek, Jalal-Abad, Talas, Kochkor, Toktogul, Bazarkorgon, Batken, and Nooken.

(RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service/Interfax)