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Kyrgyz President Asks For Probe

President Askar Akaev Prague, 21 March 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev has said charges of parliamentary election violations should be investigated.

Akaev defended the recent election results. But he said through his press office today that the Central Election Commission should look into the matter involving disputed regions.

The statement said officials are to pay particular attention to those districts where election results provoked demonstrators.

Opposition protesters demanding new elections and the resignation of the president today seized key local facilities in the south of the country.

Protests Continue

Demonstrators yesterday forcibly occupied local government offices in Osh, Kyrgyzstan's second-largest city. More recent reports suggest they have also taken control of an airport and a local television station there.

The occupations in Osh came just hours after protesters managed yesterday to re-take the mayor's office in Jalal-Abad, also in southern Kyrgyzstan.

Kyrgyzstan's AKIpress news agency reports that demonstrators have now taken control of Jalal-Abad's airfield, piling stones on the runway to prevent the central government in Bishkek from flying in police reinforcements.

There were no immediate reports of fighting between security or police forces and protesters, although unconfirmed reports from the opposition suggest that injuries might have occurred.

Yusupjan Jeyenbekov chairs the Jalal-Abad People's Council, an alternative body set up by protesters. Talking to RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service late yesterday, he claimed that police had shot at demonstrators, wounding three of them.

"Three people have been injured by police shots. One was injured in the neck, another in the leg, and a third on the hand. One of them had to be sent to hospital. The condition of the other two is fair, and they remained with [the protesters]," Jeyenbekov said.
"No one was killed. Everyone is safe. The people have taken control of the [city] administration without firing a single bullet, without the slightest bloodshed. The people's power has been established." -- Opposition leader Roza Otunbaeva

Reports that four Jalal-Abad policemen were beaten to death could not be independently confirmed. The government has denied that any violence took place.

Talking on national television today, State Secretary Osmonakun Ibraimov said authorities have nothing to hide from citizens. Ibraimov pledged to report any casualties either among protesters or law-enforcement agencies.

In comments broadcast on Georgian television today, opposition leader Roza Otunbaeva said no one was killed or wounded during the storming of the Osh administration headquarters.

"No one was killed. Everyone is safe. The people have taken control of the [city] administration without firing a single bullet, without the slightest bloodshed. The people's power has been established," Otunbaeva said.

Otunbaeva also claimed that policemen in both Osh and Jalal-Abad have donned civilian clothing and sided with the protesters. Her claim could not be immediately confirmed.

Vote In Question

Demonstrators are protesting two rounds of parliamentary voting in February and March. Opposition leaders and many international observers have described the balloting as flawed.

As scattered protests broke out in a number of Kyrgyz cities, opposition leaders were demanding that the vote results be nullified and that new elections be held.

But, as Otunbaeva said today, they are now putting forward new demands.

"As of now, there is nothing to negotiate about [with the government]. We are demanding that the president resign," Otunbaeva said.

In subsequent comments to RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service, Otunbaeva warned that the protest movement would spread to other towns and cities.

"Nearly half of [Kyrgyzstan] -- the south -- is already under our control. We will move forward," Otunbaeva said.

The situation in other Kyrgyz cities -- including the capital Bishkek -- was reportedly calm today.

President Akaev has repeatedly warned that any attempt to copy recent political upheaval in Georgia and Ukraine could drag Kyrgyzstan into civil war.

Prime Minister Nikolai Tanaev today said authorities would seek a negotiated solution to the crisis.

For more on the situation, see Kyrgyz Police Battle With Protesters In Southern Cities

For more on the Kyrgyz elections, see RFE/RL's dedicated website Kyrgyzstan Votes 2005

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