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Outgoing Kyrgyz President Apologizes For Failure To Prevent Deadly Ethnic Clashes

Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbaeva speaks before parliament in Bishkek on November 30.
Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbaeva speaks before parliament in Bishkek on November 30.
BISHKEK -- Outgoing Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbaeva has publicly apologized for her failure to prevent deadly ethnic clashes in the country last year, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Addressing parliament on her last day in office, Otunbaeva said, "I am really touched by and proud of the heroism and wisdom of the nation of Kyrgyzstan, but want to apologize again for my failure to prevent bloodshed."

More than 400 people were killed and thousands injured in violent clashes between local Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in the southern regions of Osh and Jalal-Abad in June 2010. Most of the victims were ethnic Uzbeks.

Otunbaeva became interim leader of the country after President Kurmanbek Bakiev was toppled by a popular uprisings throughout the country on April 7, 2010.

She was the first woman president in Central Asia and one of a few women who have served as leader of a predominantly Muslim nation.

Otunbaeva added that she was "very happy" that in the 20 months of her short presidency, Kyrgyzstan had managed to "preserve its integrity" and to stay unified despite ethnic tensions and a north-south rivalry in the country.

"I have done everything I could possibly do" as president and did not regret any actions she took for her nation while in office, she said. "The rest of my work will be judged by history."

Otunbaeva had pledged after becoming interim leader not to run in the October 30 presidential election, thus becoming the first president in Central Asia to voluntarily give up power.

Prime Minister Almazbek Atambaev was elected with about 63 percent of the vote and will be inaugurated on December 1.

Parliament speaker Akmatbek Keldibekov handed a "Diploma of Glory" to Otunbaeva in parliament and called her "an example for all politicians in Kyrgyzstan."

Otunbaeva, a member of the Social Democratic Party, had previously served as foreign minister and as an ambassador to the United States and Great Britain, among other roles.

Read more in Kyrgyz here and here and here