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Main Kyrgyz Opposition Parties Hold Congress In Bishkek

Delegates at the opposition congress in the Kyrgyz capital

BISHKEK --The main Kyrgyz opposition parties have held their joint gathering in Bishkek under the title People's Grand Congress.

The one-day congress, bringing together more than 1,200 delegates, was organized by opposition parties including the Akyikat Uchun (For Justice) Movement, Ata Meken (Fatherland) Socialist Party, and the Ak Shumkar (White Falcon) Party.

On the eve of the convention, Alikbek Jekshenkulov, the leader of the For Justice movement and a former foreign minister, told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service that the main agenda of the congress was to evaluate the current political and economic situation in Kyrgyzstan and discuss new concepts for further development.

Addressing the delegates, Omurbek Tekebaev, the leader of Ata Meken and a former parliament speaker, criticized growing corruption in Kyrgyzstan and the corresponding lack of trust in the government. He welcomed the election of Barack Obama as the next U.S. president and praised Obama's victory as evidence of upward mobility in American society, saying that such political success for the son of an immigrant is currently impossible in Kyrgyzstan's corrupt system.

Other leaders echoed Tekebaev's sentiment, warning against corruption and the sapping of government resources by a few powerful people.

The congress ended with the adoption of a resolution urging President Kurmanbek Bakiev’s government to implement a package of development-oriented reforms with a deadline of March 31, 2009. The opposition parties also urged the Kyrgyz people to unite in favor of the restoration of a constitutional basis for democracy and the rule of law, and for strengthened human rights and freedoms.

There were no representatives of the ruling party at the congress. Nurlan Shakiev, a press secretary for President Bakiev, told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service that the Kyrgyz opposition has failed to credit the government for its achievements since the revolution of March 2005.

The gathering was permitted by the Kyrgyz authorities after lengthy negotiations and earlier rejections of other proposed venues.

RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service contributed to this report

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