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  • » 04/20/2007, 00.00

    KYRGYZSTAN

    Kyrgyz protesters cleared away by police



    Protesters had camped out for the past week in front of the presidential palace, known as the White House. Last night clashes took place and the police launched tear gas and arrested about a hundred people. President and opposition level charges at each other as the situation remains uncertain.

    Bishkek (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Police have used tear gas and baton charges to disperse about 1,500 anti-government protesters who had marched onto the presidential palace throwing bottles at guards and threatening to storm the building. Opposition leaders blamed a small a number of radical elements among the demonstrators or government agents provocateurs for the violence.

    Several protests wielding steel bars and makeshift shields threw rocks and broke glass at the police. Three protesters and two police officers were hurt. About a hundred people were arrested.

    Police removed a tent camp in Alatoo Square where demonstrators had been peacefully protesting since April 11, demanding the resignation of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev for failing to tackle corruption and crime and of sabotaging democratic reform.

    By the early hours of the day, hundreds of riot police were stationed at Bishkek’s key intersections.

    “They [the opposition] have shown that they cannot control the people they brought to the rally,” said Interior Minister Bolotbek Nogoibayev. “We are receiving telephone calls that protesters are stopping cars and stealing from people.”

    But opposition leader Isa Abdrakhmanov, said Thursday's violence involved only radicals, not the mainstream opposition.

    Felix Kulov, a former prime minister and now a staunch opposition leader, said the episode was the work of provocateurs who threw stones at the riot police, thereby giving authorities a pretext to employ force against the protesters.

    Almaz Atambayev, a former opposition leader whom Bakiyev appointed prime minister a few months ago to divide his opponents, tried to minimise the incident. “Many shop windows have been smashed, but there was no big looting,” he said.

    Some analysts now expect Bakiyev to press a political offensive to restore presidential authority. For the past year the opposition has tried to force Bakiyev to resign through street protests.

    Meanwhile the country appears split between supporters of the president and those demanding his immediate resignation. (PB)

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    See also

    24/10/2007 KYRGYZSTAN
    OSCE complains of irregularities in Bakiyev’s referendum
    President Bakiyev called the referendum to back his constitutional reforms. Officially 80 per cent of voters cast their ballot, 75 per cent in favour of changes, but many doubts persist about the actual turnout and the legality of many ballots. The president also dissolves opposition-controlled parliament.

    07/04/2010 KYRGYZSTAN
    People take to the streets demanding the resignation of Bakiyev
    Thousands demonstrate in Bishkek and other cities, exacerbated by poverty and widespread corruption. Protesters clash with police but do not leave the square. The authorities arrest opposition leaders. The parliament debates whether to call in the army.

    19/04/2010 KYRGYZSTAN
    Accused of embezzlement and abuse of power, Bakiyev’s son disappears
    Known at home as the ‘prince’, Maksim Bakiyev is believed to have fled the country on 6 April on a flight to Washington. The United States has denied reports that the son of the former president applied for refugee status. He and his father are viewed as the main culprits in the country’s economic implosion.

    11/04/2007 Kyrgyzstan
    Thousands take to the streets demanding President Bakiyev’s resignation
    Tens of thousands of protesters rally against the Kyrgyz leader in Bishkek. The opposition blames him for not keeping his promises of reform and economic development. But Bakiyev seems bent on resisting calls for his resignation. As the country splits, the dangers of social instability rise.

    07/10/2010 KYRGYZSTAN
    More violence in Bishkek, but Sunday’s elections appear safe
    The headquarters of a party are stormed without police doing anything to stop it. Some 29 parties are running for 120 seats to shape the country’s future. Violence remains a distinct possibility, even after the elections.



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