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Kyrgyz Opposition Threatens President With Protests

Opposition deputy Melis Eshimkanov in Bishkek in April (RFE/RL) BISHKEK, September 29, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Kyrgyzstan's opposition today threatened to take to the streets of Bishkek unless President Kurmanbek Bakiev fullfils a number of demands, including much-awaited constitutional reforms that could ensure a balance between the executive and legislative branches of power.

Opposition lawmaker Melis Eshimkanov told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service the protest could start in early November.

"The Ata-Meken, Ar-Namys, Social Democrat, and Asaba parties, and the Union of Democratic Forces have agreed in principle [to take part in the protest]," he said. "We will gather 15,000 people in front of the White House [the headquarters of the presidential administation and the government] and stage pickets and rallies for an indefinite period of time. We have just one demand -- that President Bakiev resign. We want nothing else."

Kyrgyzstan's AKIpress news agency quoted another opposition lawmaker, Temir Sariev of the For Reforms movement, as saying demands would also include the resignation of Prime Minister Feliks Kulov.

Bakiev on September 28 delivered his first state-of-the-nation address to parliament since his election in 2005.

He pledged to strengthen Kyrgyz statehood and create a civil society. He also said he favored constitutional amendments that would preserve a strong executive.

(with AKIpress and