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Kyrgyzstan: Parliament Accepts President's Resignation

Akaev opening parliament (file photo) Prague, 11 April 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Kyrgyzstan's parliament voted today to accept the resignation of ousted President Askar Akaev. Akaev, who tendered his resignation on 4 April, was officially declared an “ex-president,” a status that curtails his future privileges. Lawmakers also set 10 July as the date for presidential polls.

Also today, the Supreme Court acquitted Feliks Kulov of corruption charges still pending against him, clearing the way for the popular opposition leader to run for president.

Speaking to RFE/RL from the capital Bishkek, Kyrgyz parliament speaker Omurbek Tekebaev said: “Today, parliament made a decision to stop President Akaev’s authority according to his own request. Another decision was also made on holding preterm presidential elections. They were set for 10 July. I believe these decisions have important political meaning as we legitimize future presidential elections.”
"He will have immunity from criminal and administrative prosecution. He will also be modestly provided for [financially]." -- Tekebaev

Tekebaev said lawmakers had discussed whether to declare Akaev “ex-president” or the country’s “first president.” The difference in status carries great significance in terms of privileges for Akaev and his family.

“As far as the financial provisions of the ex-president is concerned, this issue was seriously revised and [Akaev’s financial security] significantly limited," he said. "He will have immunity from criminal and administrative prosecution. He will also be modestly provided for [financially].”

However, Akaev’s family will not receive immunity -- something it would have gotten had Akaev acquired “first president” status.

Akaev also lost some political rights, such as lifelong membership in the Security Council, the right to address parliament, access to government media outlets and the ability to submit formal proposals to the Kyrgyz leadership or even to the nation.

As ex-president, Akaev and his family will receive free healthcare and the right to vacation at government-owned guesthouses. He will also be provided with bodyguards but only within Kyrgyzstan.

However, Akaev lost the right to maintain a staff and free access to VIP lounges at Kyrgyz airports as well as a more tangible asset -- a plot of land on Issyk Kul Lake.

Tekebaev said Akaev’s privileges and security don’t differ from those of other politicians who have resigned in the past.

Meanwhile, parliament also set 10 July as the date for presidential elections today after the idea of voting on 26 June was scrapped last week.

Tekebaev says the change complies with the constitution. “It complies with the constitutional norms," he said. "Under the constitution, the [presidential] elections are to be held within three months after the president’s resignation.”

Analysts say the early election date would boost the chances of Kyrgyzstan’s interim President and Prime Minister Kurmanbek Bakiev to get elected. Bakiev still enjoys popular support after leading the protesters that ousted Akaev late last month.

However, an eventual presidential run has been made easier for Bakiev’s potential main rival, Feliks Kulov. The Supreme Court cleared Kulov today of all pending criminal charges against him, including embezzlement.

Kulov, a former vice president and security chief, spent more than four years in prison for corruption and other charges that he says were politically motivated. He was freed from jail by protesters in Bishkek on 24 March as ousted President Akaev fled the country.

The leader of the Ar-Namys (Dignity) party, Kulov is one of the most country’s prominent political figures.

Aalybek Akunov, professor of political science at Kyrgyz National University in Bishkek told RFE/RL that Kulov enjoys a lot of support since he was able to establish order after Akaev’s ouster. “People expected this decision [from the court]," Akunov said. "It was made. Now Kulov has every reason to announce his candidacy for president. He announced his intentions earlier. Amid continuing revolution and disorder, Kulov’s image as an ‘iron fist’ and a person who is able to establish order improves, his ratings [are] going up.”

Other opposition leaders who announced their intention to run for president need more time for pre-election preparation. Hence, they were seen as seeking to delay the polls.

Experts say opposition infighting is as strong as before Akaev’s fall last month.

Aleksei Malashenko, the Central Asia expert at the Moscow Carnegie Center, said the rivalry pitting several politicians against one another is likely to deepen ahead of presidential polls. “I don’t see any signs of consolidation of the opposition after its unexpected success," he said. "I think [opposition leaders] haven’t defined hierarchy and tasks of each prominent politician from the opposition.”

Kyrgyz officials say the parliament’s decisions should help stabilize the country and improve Kyrgyzstan’s international image. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe had criticized continuing delays to accept Akaev's resignation, saying they were harming stability.

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