New Kyrgyz election scheduled after lightning coup

Sunday, March 27, 2005

File photo of Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan Source: Hunne

Ignoring ousted president Askar Akayev's refusal to resign, the former, pre-election, Kyrgyzstan parliament has scheduled a new presidential election for June 26. Acting President Kurmanbek Bakiyev said he would run in the election.

Meanwhile, former interior minister Keneshbek Dushebayev, who was ousted along with Akayev, announced today he was leading thousands of counterdemonstrators from Akayev's native area of Kemin toward the capital of Bishkek, to protest Thursday's coup, which also began with a group of a few thousand young demonstrators, who in a few hours broke through the lines of guards protecting the presidential headquarters and effectively unseated President Akayev, ending his 14 years in power. It was unclear as night fell whether Dushebayev's march had succeeded in making its way to the capital, but the new leadership which seized power on Thursday following the protests said that it was maintaining control of the country, and that the march had fizzled out.

Bakiyev switched the venue of a news conference today, reportedly because of a rumoured assassination plot. Bishkek was calm compared to the looting and chaos that followed on the heels of the Thursday protests and coup, but bands of looters still roamed the city and government officials were taking no chances. According to an eyewitness AP report, residents of the capital are still "frightened and shocked."

It is not clear where Akayev is right now; the Interfax News Agency, citing unnamed sources, reported earlier that he has arrived in Russia. Bakiyev has criticized Akayev for fleeing the country in its time of need, and maintains that he is surprised by the speed of recent events.

"It didn’t enter my head that this could happen," Bakiyev said, according to a Reuters report.

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