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New Kyrgyz leader to investigate his own revolution

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/world/wire/sns-ap-kyrgyzstan,0,2042541.story?coll=sns-ap-world-headlines Bakiyev Set to Launch Probe in Kyrgyzstan By
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 29, 2005
      http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/world/wire/sns-ap-kyrgyzstan,0,2042541.story?coll=sns-ap-world-headlines

      Bakiyev Set to Launch Probe in Kyrgyzstan

      By KADYR TOKTOGULOV
      Associated Press Writer

      March 29, 2005, 9:00 AM EST

      BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan -- Acting President Kurmanbek
      Bakiyev announced plans Tuesday for an investigation
      into last week's storming of the government
      headquarters, which led to President Askar Akayev's
      ouster and his own appointment as interim leader.

      Akayev reportedly told a Moscow radio station Tuesday
      that he was the only "legitimate" leader of his
      country and would not resign.

      "I'm in Russia, outside Moscow," Akayev said in an
      interview broadcast on Moscow's Ekho Moskvyi radio.
      "I've not resigned as president. I am the only elected
      and legitimate president of Kyrgyzstan. At the moment,
      I don't see any reason or justification to resign."

      The voice sounded like Akayev, but there was no
      immediate way to confirm it was indeed the Kyrgyz
      president.

      Bakiyev, who has repeatedly said that protesters who
      gathered near Akayev's offices Thursday had no plans
      to storm the building, told presidential
      administration staff to draft a decree creating a
      commission to investigate the seizure.

      The move by Bakiyev appeared to be aimed at distancing
      himself from the actions of protesters who overran the
      building, known as the White House, which was
      ransacked by rowdy demonstrators before more senior
      opposition members restored order. The seizure was
      followed by widespread looting in the capital for two
      nights.

      "I hope you clearly understand that nobody planned the
      seizure of the White House," the former opposition
      leader told administration members and employees --
      many of whom served under Akayev.

      "I ask the president's office to prepare a project of
      a decree urgently to establish a state commission to
      investigate what happened. We have to know and people
      have to know why this happened, who is to blame. ...
      We just can't leave it all like this."

      But Akayev disputed Bakiyev's account, saying, "From
      the very beginning, the opposition planned to seize
      power, not just stage peaceful rallies."

      Also Tuesday, lawmakers ended a damaging battle for
      legitimacy between rival parliaments, boosting
      prospects for political stability.

      Legislators from the Central Asian nation's previous
      parliament had struggled for supremacy against newly
      elected rivals since Akayev's government was toppled.

      The old parliament's upper house ended its defiance
      and disbanded Tuesday, one day after a similar move by
      its lower house, deferring to a new legislature packed
      with lawmakers who had Akayev's support during the
      disputed elections that fueled the push for his
      ouster.

      The move apparently signaled a measure of
      accommodation between the old elite and the former
      opposition leaders now in charge of the country, who
      swung their support behind the new parliament and
      called for the old one to disband.

      Bakiyev praised the move.

      "You have taken the right and historic decision. I
      hope your decision will bring calm," he said.

      In his radio interview, Akayev said the newly elected
      parliament was the only legitimate government in the
      country.

      "In Kyrgyzstan, the only legitimate authority is the
      new parliament, the interim government is not
      legitimate," he said.

      Akayev did not mention Bakiyev in his interview.

      Opposition-led protesters had risen up against
      Akayev's government over allegations of vote-rigging
      in parliamentary elections held in February and March,
      and many opposition supporters felt the newly elected
      legislature should be overthrown along with Akayev.

      The old parliament had reconvened hours after the
      Thursday's takeover, and won the blessing of the
      Supreme Court. But the new parliament secured the
      backing of country's election commission over the
      weekend, and at the height of the conflict, the two
      parliaments held competing sessions on separate floors
      of the same building.

      Bakiyev was chosen acting president and prime minister
      by the old parliament. On Monday, the new legislature
      named him prime minister as well, and he declared the
      new parliament Kyrgyzstan's legitimate legislature.

      A new presidential election is scheduled for June 26.

      Bakiyev, who maintains that about 20 of the 75 seats
      in the new parliament are in dispute, reiterated
      pledges that those races would be reviewed by the
      courts and Central Election Commission.

      "We cannot dissolve the whole parliament," he said.

      The parliamentary dispute had threatened to plunge the
      impoverished nation of 5 million people deeper into
      crisis after the ouster of Akayev, whose popular
      support dwindled during a 15-year rule marked by
      increasing authoritarianism and corruption
      allegations.

      Akayev fled to Russia last week after the protesters
      seized his headquarters.

      The opposition accused Akayev's government of
      manipulating the elections to give him a compliant
      legislature so that he could stay in power longer than
      allowed under the constitution.

      Kyrgyzstan is the third former Soviet republic in the
      past 18 months -- after Georgia and Ukraine -- where
      the opposition was swept to power after mass protests
      against long-entrenched leaders.

      Strategically located, it hosts both U.S. and Russian
      military bases. It shares a border with China, has
      been a conduit for drugs and is a potential hotbed of
      Islamic extremism.
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