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Dismissed Osh Mayor Breaks Silence, Says He'll Run Again

Kyrgyz Ex-Mayor Melis Myrzakmatov On His Surprise Dismissal
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WATCH: RFE/RL speaks to Myrzakmatov about his surprise dismissal.

BISHKEK -- Melis Myrzakmatov, the controversial former mayor of the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh, has broken his silence over his dismissal, saying he intends to run again.

On December 5, Kyrgyz Prime Minister Jantoro Satybaldiev signed a decree dismissing Myrzakmatov from his post in charge of the country's second-largest city.

Myrzakmatov was the only top official in Kyrgyzstan with ties to former President Kurmanbek Bakiev who had managed to remain in his post after Bakiev's ouster by violent protests in 2010.

Talking to RFE/RL in Bishkek on December 6, Myrzakmatov said the reason for his dismissal was technical, as new legislation recently endorsed by the government requires mayors be elected by city councils rather than be appointed by the president.

"I was dismissed not for stealing something, not for selling lands, or something like taking bribes," he said. "As the [prime minister's] decree says, I have been dismissed due to the upcoming election."

The decree was not made public.

ALSO READ: A Powerful Kyrgyz Mayor Falls -- But Maybe Not For Long

Myrzakmatov said he will take part in a new mayoral election, which is expected to be held in several weeks.

"Nobody had taken away my right to take part in the [vote]," he said. "As a citizen of Kyrgyzstan, I have a full right to take part."

Myrzakmatov also accused the government of using selective justice against opposition politicians.

"The problem of the current authorities is their unwillingness to have a dialogue [with the opposition]," he said. "They do not say, 'Come on, what kind of proposal do you have? Let us work together. Let us get out of the crisis together. Let us preserve Kyrgyzstan's integrity. Let us develop it further.' There is no such dialogue. Whoever says anything against [the authorities] is portrayed as an enemy, either a corrupt individual or a tribalism supporter."

Kyrgyzstan's government had long sought to remove Myrzakmatov, whose critics accuse him with doing too little to prevent the deadly clashes in 2010 between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in Osh, in southern Kyrgyzstan. More than 400 people were killed and thousands displaced during that violence.

Myrzakmatov survived previous attempts by the government to dismiss him due to mass protests by his supporters.

On December 6, hundreds of Myrzakmatov's supporters gathered in Osh's central square demanding his return to the mayor's office.