Kyrgyz Government in Bishkek Resigns, Roza Otunbayeva and Interim Government Set Up Control

by kris bishop on April 8, 2010

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originally published April 7, 2010 as KYRGYZTAN IN
CRISIS AS CLASHES ESCALATE
at BBC.com:

“The government in Kyrgyzstan is struggling to retain power as deadly clashes escalate between police and thousands of protesters. Officials say at least 40 people died in the capital, Bishkek, as protesters stormed government and TV offices.

The protesters are angry at rising prices and accuse President Kurmanbek Bakiyev of failing to curb corruption.

A key opposition leader has said the government has now resigned but there is no official confirmation.

The leader, Temir Sariyev, said Prime Minister Daniyar Usenov had signed a letter of resignation and that Mr Bakiyev had left Bishkek.

Mr Sariyev said a new “people’s government” had been formed.

The Agence France-Presse news agency quotes an airport employee as saying that Mr Bakiyev has flown out of Bishkek aboard a small plane.

However, the US state department said it believed the Kyrgyz government “remains in power”.

The opposition has taken control of at least one television channel.

Another opposition leader, Omurbek Tekebayev, said in a broadcast that at least 100 demonstrators had been killed in the clashes.

A Kyrgyz human rights activist, Asel Kuttubayeva, said on the channel that several regional administrations had been seized and their governors had resigned.

None of the claims on the broadcasts can be independently confirmed.

The health ministry said 40 people had died and more than 400 were injured in the clashes.

One doctor in Bishkek, Akylbek Yeukebayev, told Reuters news agency there were “dozens of dead bodies, all with gunshot wounds”.

Kyrgyzstan, a strategically important Central Asian state, houses a key US military base that supplies forces in Afghanistan. Russia also has a base there.

The US embassy in Bishkek and Russia have both expressed concern and called for restraint.

Mr Putin denied Moscow had played any role in the clashes.

“Neither Russia, nor your humble servant, nor Russian officials have any links whatsoever to these events,” the RIA news agency quoted him as saying.

A spokesman for Ban Ki-moon said the UN secretary general was “shocked by the reported deaths and injuries that have occurred today in Kyrgyzstan. He urgently appeals for dialogue and calm to avoid further bloodshed”.

Bloodstains

The unrest broke out in the provincial town of Talas on Tuesday and spread to Bishkek and another town, Naryn, on Wednesday. All three were put under curfew.

Interior Minister Moldomusa Kongatiyev, who was believed to have gone to Talas to calm the situation, was reportedly severely beaten.

Some reports said he had been killed by the mob, others that he was taken hostage, but there is no confirmation of his fate.

In Bishkek, protesters attempted to storm the president’s office but were held back by security forces, who reportedly fired live rounds into the crowd.

Earlier, police had used tear gas and stun grenades to try to break up crowds outside an opposition headquarters but the protesters overcame the police and marched to the presidential offices in the city centre.

Police cars were overturned and set alight and officers attacked by the crowd, some of whom were armed.

Gunfire could be heard crackling through the centre of Bishkek and photographs from the city showed bloodstains on the pavement. The prosecutor’s office was also set alight.

Mr Sariyev had been arrested after arriving on a flight from Moscow on Wednesday and a number of other opposition leaders were also detained.

Protesters freed Mr Sariyev on Wednesday and there are unconfirmed reports that up to 10 leaders have now been released.

Mr Bakiyev came to power amid a wave of street protests in 2005 known as the Tulip Revolution, but many of his allies have deserted him claiming intimidation and corruption.”

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