Kyrgyzstan faces a prolonged stalemate between Bakiyev and opponents
Bishkek (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Thousands of demonstrators took to the main square in the capital this morning to mourn the 75 victims of the uprising, after another night of clashes and arrests. Yesterday the opposition leaders seized power and proclaimed a provisional government announcing democratic elections within a few months, promising the abolition of recent energy price increases and declaring that the U.S. military base will remain open. President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who at first thought to have fled the country, has announced that he has settled in the southern region of Jalalabad, his real stronghold.
Bakiyev, speaking on Russian radio Moscow Ekho, has announced that he will not give up power and that the demonstrators are plunging the country into chaos, but denied he is arming its supporters.
Both parties seemed concerned to emphasise in their public interventions that there will be no further armed clashes and claim to have full public support. Experts comment that the risk of a prolonged stalemate is high, with unpredictable consequences, given that tensions remain between the industrialized north and poor south of the country with a strong ethnic Uzbek component, divided by the Tian Shan mountain range. In recent days, riots erupted in northern cities such as Bishkek, Naryn, Talas, while large southern cities such as Osh and Jalalabad remained calm.
Leader of the opposition and interim government, Rosa Otunbayeva, stresses that they are working to restore order, before carrying out the reforms announced. Meanwhile, last night in Bishkek, the police started to patrol the streets after being gone for a day. But during the night armed groups continued to invade the streets and there were sporadic shootings. To the point that local sources report the existence of voluntary "brigades" in many city quarters to defend residents.
There is still no exact data on the exact number of dead. The Ministry of Health puts the death toll so far at 75, with more than 1,000 wounded. Analysts note that the interim government needs to quickly restore order, if it wants to consolidate power.
In seeking international recognition, Otunbayeva announced that the change will not affect government policy towards Afghanistan and the U.S. military base at Manas. Meanwhile, U.S. military authorities said the operations from the base were "suspended", without clarifying whether they will begin again. The leaders also promised that the power companies will be nationalized and prices set.
Russia, which considers the former Soviet republic as part of its traditional sphere of influence, is cautious.