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Kyrgyz Parliament Confirms New Prime Minister

Almaz Atambaev (file photo) (RFE/RL) BISKEK, March 30, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- By a vote of 48-3, the Kyrgyz parliament today approve moderate opposition politician Almaz Atambaev as Kyrgyzstan's prime minister, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported.

To be confirmed, Atambaev needed support from at least 37 of the 72 lawmakers now in parliament.

Three ballots were declared invalid, and the remaining 18 parliamentarians did not attend the session.

A Bid To Reduce Tensions

President Kurmanbek Bakiev nominated Atambaev and appointed him acting prime minister on March 29 in a bid to defuse a deepening standoff with opposition lawmakers.

Atambaev told parliament before today's vote that he will work with Bakiev to prevent Kyrgyzstan from sliding further into political crisis.

"I am not going to put up with corruption or any privileges, whomever they may be for," he said. "My task is to implement anticrisis management -- to reanimate the government as a body that governs the social and economic development of the country. I also realize that we have little time to do that."

Atambaev has been a fierce critic of Bakiev.

Toward A New Government

Bakiev told lawmakers today that Atambaev was his own choice and that he was not pressured by the opposition when he made the appointment.

"I see nothing wrong with forming a new government," Bakiev said. "I proposed Almaz Atambaev to do it. This was not a random choice and this choice was not imposed on me by anybody else. Almaz Atambaev has extensive and successful experience in market economy."

But Bakiev also admitted that he had made a deal with Atambaev that there would be no changes to top ministers and government officials who work in the areas foreign affairs and security.

"Considering that under the constitution foreign policy and security are within the authority of the president, we have agreed that those ministers will not change," Bakiev said. "As for the rest of the government members, as soon as you have confirmed [Atambaev], I will issue a decree appointing Atambaev [as prime minister] and he will begin broad consultations with factions, political parties, and movements on the composition of the government."

Bakiev also said that Atambaev's views and actions prove that he is a "steadfast democrat" and a "patriot" who cares about the development of Kyrgyzstan.

(with material from Reuters)

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