04/07/2010, 00.00
KYRGYZSTAN
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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.

Bishkek (AsiaNews / Agencies) – People have taken to the streets in many cities in protest, exacerbated by the rising cost of living and widespread corruption, with calls for the resignation of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev. Today in Bishkek thousands marched on government buildings (the so-called "White House"), clashing with police and torching several police cars and a cafe.  

Yesterday in northwestern Talas, thousands of people invaded the government palace and surrounded the police headquarters in a mass demonstration very similar to that in 2005 that brought down the government and forced President Askar Akayev to flee the country, paving the way for the emergence of Bakiyev.  

The reaction of the government has been determined and overnight night in the capital many opposition leaders were arrested, leaving the protesters without any real leaders.  Among those arrested was Almazbek Atambayev, the main opposition leader, Isa Omurkulov and Omuerbek Tekebayev. The parliament is debating whether to declare a curfew and call in the army. The fear is that this will unleash a bloodbath and an uncontrollable reaction from the crowd, which could extend to all northern regions. Bishkek protesters are determined, some are armed and violently attacked the police, who used tear gas and smoke. Premier Danivar Usenov says at least 85 people have been wounded, including several policemen. Residents say that the internet has been blocked in many areas, television broadcasts are down and telephone contacts are difficult.  

The people, exasperated by the rising cost of living and widespread unemployment, have lost faith in government, accused of corruption. Images of Bakyiev are burned in the square. In the parliamentary elections of 2009, European observers spoke of widespread fraud. In recent weeks the authorities have implemented a growing censorship and pressure on media and  websites, fomenting protest.  

In Naryn, in the center of the country, thousands of people have occupied the government building and set up a "government of the people." The main road from Bishkek to Talas is controlled by a large police cordon.

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