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Kulov Declares Bid For Kyrgyz Presidency

Feliks Kulov (file photo) Bishkek, 25 April 2005 (RFE/RL) -- A former dissident who emerged as a key leader following the ouster of the Kyrgyz presidential administration in late March today declared his intention to run for the presidency.

Kyrgyzstan's former vice president and security chief, Feliks Kulov, said he decided to enter the race to bring "stability, interethnic accord, and unity" to the country.

Balloting has been scheduled for 10 July to replace ousted President Askar Akaev, who fled the country when protesters in the capital stormed the presidential and governmental offices in the capital on 24 March.

His departure had become a central demand of protesters who claimed national elections in late February and early March were rigged.

"First of all, [my decision to run for president] is linked to the need to stabilize the situation in the country, ensure the security of the people, normalize the work of state institutions, ensure interethnic accord, prevent an outflow of Russian-speaking population, unite the nation, [and] unite the people," Kulov told RFE/RL today.

Kulov emerged from prison on 24 March having served five years for charges that he claims were politically motivated, and the convictions were thrown out by a Kyrgyz court. He heads the Ar-Nayms Party.

Kulov, who heads the Ar-Nayms Party, is expected to face acting President Kurmanbek Bakiev in the presidential vote.

Bakiev confirmed in a live broadcast by Kyrgyz Television and Kyrgyz State Radio on 24 April that he had met with Kulov the previous day, and he said he expected to face Kulov in the presidential vote.

"The two of us had a gentlemanly talk agreeing to hold fair elections and a fair fight and not to take people into the streets, and not to buy votes by giving money to people after the elections if one of us loses," Bakiev told the live audience. "Time will show what will happen."

Bakiev praised central and local government efforts to return the country to calm in the month following the presidential ouster in Kyrgyzstan. "Thanks to the efforts of our government and local authorities, we have been able to stabilize the social and political situation by now," he said on Kyrgyz Television and State Radio.

Kulov said today that he would offer Bakiev the prime minister's post if he were elected in the July vote.

See also:

"Kyrgyzstan Gets New Constitutional Council"

[For more on events in the region, see our dedicated Central Asia in Focus webpage.]

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