Opposition takes to the streets, threatens to bring down President Bakiyev
The country’s economic crisis is worsening as a result of high inflation and power shortages. Now the opposition threatens to lead the people into the streets to bring down the president if he does not respond to their demands. But the government, secure in its parliamentary majority, responds by saying the power shortages are due to low levels in water reservoirs and rivers.
Bishkek (AsiaNews/Agencies) – About 1,500 people marched in the northern city of Talas to protest against President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, calling for his resignation. The country is in the grip of a bad economic crisis, with power and heating shortages expected this coming winter

Demonstrators are demanding Bakiyev make major changes to lead Kyrgyzstan out of its present crisis. The Revolutionary Committee and others have criticised him for betraying the hopes of those who brought him to power in March 2005 following mass protests (pictured) that forced then President Askar Akaev to resign. They accuse him of just playing musical chair with the former president and of getting rich on the backs of the people. 

Avtandil Arabaev, a lawmaker with the Ak-Jol Party, which holds a majority in parliament, dismissed the criticism and defended the president’s record in office.

Bakiev is due back in Kyrgyzstan today after spending about a month in Germany for medical treatment.

The opposition is now preparing a Kuriltai or grand council for 29 November to get people to take part in protests and bring down the government.

Unrest could coincide with the disputed 16 December parliamentary elections.

Many people are angry about high inflation, skyrocketing prices for food and other essential items and endless power shortages.

The authorities began a policy of rolling blackouts nine months ago, cutting consumption by 30 per cent. Despite an official pledge that conservation measures would stop in summer, the unpredictable blackouts continued during the warmer season. Now people fear there might be a heating shortage during the cold months of winter.

Government officials blame the problem on low water levels in reservoirs, which is affecting the capacity of country’s hydroelectric plants to generate power.

An online poll by the AKIpress news agency claims however that almost 60 per cent of respondents feel the crisis was due to institutional corruption.

Before protest began, opposition leader Azimbek Beknazarov alleged that authorities used a variety of dirty tricks against opposition activists to induce them to stay away from the protest.

Overnight on 15 November, the car of one activist, Roza Nurmatova, was torched by unknown assailants, Beknazarov said.

Similarly, the following night “a group of young people came to a house where rights activist Topchubek Turgunaliyev was staying,” the opposition leader said, telling him to get out of “Talas before 10 am” next day.