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Kyrgyzstan: Akaev Calls On Opposition To Preserve Peace

Bishkek, 17 May 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev today appealed to the opposition to preserve peace by ending a week of protests against a land deal with China. Akaev said he would like the country to "find a way out of this difficult situation by preserving peace."

Hundreds of demonstrators have since 13 May been protesting against Kyrgyzstan ceding a total of 125,000 hectares of land to China. The latest of the two deals was approved earlier today by Kyrgyzstan's upper house of parliament. The lower house approved the deal last week.

Also today, a Bishkek court sentenced some of the protesters who were detained yesterday to pay fines of about $42 for disturbing public order. Demonstrators are also protesting against alleged political persecution of opposition activists.

Akaev said today that he would form a commission to investigate the violence that broke out at an antigovernment rally in March. Authorities are accused of killing five protesters in Djalalabad Oblast.