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Kyrgyz Crowds Protest International Police Plan


Demonstrators In Bishkek protest against OSCE police deployment In southern Kyrgyzstan on July 26.
OSH/BISHKEK -- More than 2,000 people have gathered in Kyrgyzstan's two biggest cities against the government's decision to allow international police into the country, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

The largest demonstration was in the southern city of Osh, where some 1,500 people gathered to protest President Roza Otunbaeva's acceptance of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) proposal to deploy a 52-member police advisory unit in southern Kyrgyzstan.

Several hundred also rallied in the main square of the capital, Bishkek.

In Osh, protesters gathered in the central square and marched to the OSCE office. An OSCE representative in Osh met with the protesters and explained the organization's plan regarding the police force.

The action in Bishkek was organized by the Kyrgyzstan's Defense movement. Protesters held signs such as: "Kyrgyz nation against OSCE police!" and "No to international police force!"

The Kyrgyz-approved OSCE plan provides for a police presence in the country's southern regions of Osh and Jalal-Abad.

At least 316 people were killed and hundreds of thousands fled their homes due to clashes between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in the two regions in June.

Although tensions remain high, opponents of the OSCE police deployment claim the local authorities are able to cope with disturbances.

Otunbaeva said earlier this month the unarmed international police force would monitor the human rights situation, accompany Kyrgyz police on patrols, and hold training sessions for local police.