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Ousted Kyrgyz Leader Says He's Not Ready To Resign

Akaev opening parliament last week Bishkek, 29 March 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Kyrgyzstan's ousted president, Askar Akaev, said today that he still considers himself the country's legitimate ruler and has no intention of stepping down for the time being.

In remarks broadcast live on the Russian independent radio station Ekho Moskvy, the ousted Kyrgyz leader said he is now living near Moscow.

But Akaev also said he is ready to return to his home country if the new Kyrgyz leadership offers him sufficient guarantees for his security. In his first interview since the ouster that followed weeks of protests against rigged legislative elections, Akaev confirmed that he took refuge in Russia after last week's dramatic events.

Akaev had vanished from the public eye on 24 March when a crowd of angry protestors took control of the presidential and government headquarters -- known as the White House.

Rumors circulated quickly that the country's leader had fled to Russia. But even after the Kremlin announced on 26 March that it agreed to grant Akaev permission to enter the country, his whereabouts remained a mystery until today.
"Neither Bakiev nor Kulov has legitimacy, and so I don't believe they can guarantee my security and immunity."

Speaking by telephone from an undisclosed location near Moscow, the 60-year-old Akaev told Ekho Moskvy -- which broadcasts to the Kyrgyz capital -- that he has no intention of stepping down for the time being.

Akaev suggested that anyone who claims to have taken his place is mistaken: "I have not resigned as president yet, therefore I consider myself the one and only legitimate, elected president. At the moment I see no reason to resign."

Hours later, Akaev however suggested he might resign under certain circumstances. Speaking in an interview broadcast on Russia's state-run Channel One television, Akaev said he was prepared to resign if given "relevant" guarantees and if it fully conforms with the current Kyrgyz legislation.

There was no immediate explanation for the differing statements.

Akaev, whose mandate should have expired on 30 October of this year, said he had long made it known that he would neither seek a third term nor attempt to hand-pick a successor.

Before it announced its decision today to disband, the upper chamber of Kyrgyzstan's outgoing parliament last week moved that early presidential polls should take place on 26 June. It is now unclear whether that legislature's dissolution puts the date in question.

'New Parliament Legitimate'

Akaev told Ekho Moskvy that he considers the newly elected parliament -- whose mandate was restored by the Central Election Commission on 27 March -- along with its speaker the only legitimate power remaining in the country.

"Of course, I can negotiate only with Omurbek Tekebaev, who, as the speaker of the parliament, is the only legitimate leader in Kyrgyzstan today."

Tekebaev on 28 March called for the creation of a special commission to enter into talks with the ousted president. In Tekebaev's words, this commission should try to convince Akaev to return to Kyrgyzstan and officially announce that he is stepping down.

In his radio interview, Akaev did not confirm reports that negotiations have already started between himself and the ascendant Kyrgyz leadership.

But he said that if such consultations were to take place he would agree to talk only to Tekebaev or to representatives of the new parliament.

"The executive branch is not legitimate today," Akaev said. "The opposition leaders were not able to keep the situation within the constitutional field and seized power unconstitutionally. I think I can conduct a dialogue with the new parliament, the parliamentary speaker, and I am ready to provide assistance in order to keep everything within the constitution."

The man who was voted in yesterday as Kyrgyzstan's prime minister and interim president by the new parliament, Kurmanbek Bakiev, and a former vice president named security chief last week, Feliks Kulov, have both pledged to guarantee Akaev's security and immunity from prosecution if he decides to return to the capital.

But Akaev said he would not consider their offer because neither man has the constitutional right to offer him such guarantees: "Neither Bakiev nor Kulov has legitimacy, and so I don't believe they can guarantee my security and immunity. Yes, they are the opposition leaders; they are the rulers. But they do not have constitutional legitimacy."

Akaev also denied opponents' claims that they had no plans to seize power and that the storming of the White House was improvised and the result of events in the street.

He blamed the leaders of the former Kyrgyz opposition for refusing to enter into talks with his representatives and for bringing "tens of thousands" of young people from the regions to the capital with the aim of overthrowing his government.

Akaev said the last order he gave his interior minister, Keshenbek Dushebaev, before fleeing the country was that he should "under no circumstances" order police to use firearms against protesters.