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Kyrgyzstan: New Problems Could Follow Akaev Resignation

Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev formally resigned office today Ousted Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev submitted his resignation letter today. The move puts an end to the legal uncertainty that emerged after the opposition took power on 24 March --> . But is Akaev's formal resignation the closure that the new Kyrgyz leadership is looking for?

Prague, 1 April 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev formally resigned in a ceremony at the Kyrgyz Embassy in Moscow.

He told journalists in the Russian capital today that "the first clause [of my resignation agreement] states that the president of the Kyrgyz Republic declares the cancellation of his powers before the end of the term."
Many observers, however, believe that Akaev's resignation may only be a prelude to new problems.

The resignation comes after a Kyrgyz parliamentary commission traveled to Moscow and reached an agreement with Akaev yesterday. Parliament speaker Omurbek Tekebaev led the commission.

Temir Sariev, a member of the commission, says Akaev's resignation ends the country's constitutional crisis.

"This [resignation] statement was given to the parliamentary speaker, [Omurbek] Tekebaev. That is how everything ended,” Sariev said. “And now, the parliamentary commission, after it arrives in Bishkek, will discuss this issue at a parliamentary session. [The commission] will accept Akaev's resignation and set a date for presidential elections in Kyrgyzstan. This puts an end to the legislative crisis. Kyrgyzstan will act constitutionally and in accordance with international norms."

Many observers, however, believe that Akaev's resignation may only be a prelude to new problems.

Sergey Luzyanin is a professor at the Moscow Institute for International Relations (MGIMO). He says that it is not certain whether Akaev will have complete immunity, despite the latest agreement:

"Documents signed in Moscow don't give a 100 percent guarantee,” Luzyanin said. “They are political and legislative steps aimed at bringing the situation in line with the current reality. Akaev took these steps in order to gain something. But the new leadership delegation, headed by parliament speaker [Omurbek Tekebaev] and his colleagues, needed [the agreement] even more because they want legitimacy and they want to be able to hold new elections within a legal framework. I believe there is a 40 percent guarantee that the signed agreement will ensure [Akaev's] security."

The new Kyrgyz leadership has already announced its intention to investigate business interests belonging to the Akaev family.

If it is found that Akaev broke the law, the former president will not have legal immunity and may face punishment.

Russia and Kazakhstan are guarantors of the agreement, including the stipulations regarding the former president's security.

Luzyanin tells RFE/RL that the Kremlin will protect Akaev. The ousted president will likely be given political asylum in Russia.

Aalybek Akunov disagrees. He is a professor of political science at the Kyrgyz National University in Bishkek:

"According to our constitution and our laws, no foreign country -- be it Russia or Kazakhstan -- can interfere in the internal affairs of our country” he said. “In this regard, they have no legal rights. Therefore, I think [the agreement reached in Moscow] is a mere political declaration that has no legal ground."

Now that Akaev has resigned, many experts believe that rivalries among political parties and individual politicians are likely to intensify.

One of those experts is Luzyanin. He says that “the latent problem is a deepening confrontation between [the leader of the Ar-Namys party] Feliks Kulov and interim President and Prime Minister Kurmanbek Bakiev. Besides, there is confrontation within the [new] Kyrgyz leadership as several politicians have declared their intention to run for the presidency. But the main problem is the potential for crisis, in which case Kulov might become the only leader and seize power."

Further developments will likely depend on the political will of the new leadership.

And much depends on whether the new Kyrgyz leaders are able to focus on the economy and make good on promises made to the Kyrgyz people before the 24 March uprising.

[For more on recent events in Kyrgyzstan, see RFE/RL's dedicated Revolution in Kyrgyzstan webpage.]