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Thousands Demonstrate For Reform In Bishkek

Signs in Bishkek protest alleged nepotism and corruption (RFE/RL) BISHKEK, May 27, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Thousands of people demonstrated in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, today, demanding constitutional reforms and stronger efforts against corruption, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported.

Supporters of the For Reform opposition movement and nongovernmental organizations took part in the rally.

Omurbek Tekebaev, the former speaker of Kyrgyz Parliament and leader of the For Reform opposition movement, addressed the crowd of about 5,000 people.

"People have gathered here today who are not indifferent to the country's future," Tekebaev said. "We, ordinary people, are the real hosts of our country. We, people, have woken up, we have come to knock on the government's door, and want to remind them about their promises given to the people during the election campaign. If they [president and other officials] do not keep their word, and don't fulfill their promises, then we can demand that they leave."

Kyrgyz authorities had planned to hold a military parade marking Kyrgyzstan's Army Day on Bishkek's central square today, in a move that opposition members said was intended to disrupt their rally.

But authorities on May 26 decided to move the military parade to May 29, the traditional date for Army Day festivities.

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