Ousted Kyrgyz leader quits

Ousted
President Kurmanbek Bakiyev fled Kyrgyzstan and a government source said he had
quit, a week after an uprising against his five-year rule sparked fears of
civil war.

“The president of Kyrgyzstan
has flown to Kazakhstan, where he will conduct negotiations on the settlement
of the crisis,” Bakiyev aide Ravshan Dzhamgyrchiyev told reporters.

A source in the interim government,
which took control after an 7 April revolt that left dozens dead, said Bakiyev
had signed a letter of resignation.

It marked an ignominious end to his
rule, five years after he led street protests dubbed the “Tulip
Revolution” that ousted the country’s first post-Soviet ruler Askar Akayev
on the back of a call for greater democracy.

Critics accused Bakiyev, a former
soldier in the Soviet army, of allowing the same excesses of nepotism and
corruption as Akayev.

Popular anger over a government
decision to raise utility fees and an intensified crackdown on dissent and
press freedom culminated in protests on 7 April. Troops opened fire and at
least 84 people died.

Bakiyev fled for the south and
hunkered down with armed bodyguards trying to rally support.

But his days were numbered when
first Russia and then the United States pledged support for the interim
government, led by ex-foreign minister and former Bakiyev ally Roza Otunbayeva.

Otunbayeva on Thursday accused
Bakiyev of trying to “unleash a civil standoff between the north and the
south.”

“The interim government …
intends to carry out an objective investigation of crimes of which the former
president is guilty, and present a demand for him to be tried in Kyrgyz or
international courts,” Otunbayeva said.

The interim
government has pledged to run the country of 5.3 million people for six months
in order to draft a new constitution and hold elections.

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