Kyrgyzstan's exiled president, Askar Akayev, has agreed in principle to step down, Kyrgyz officials said yesterday. His resignation would pave...
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan — Kyrgyzstan’s exiled president, Askar Akayev, has agreed in principle to step down, Kyrgyz officials said yesterday. His resignation would pave the way for the opposition government that ousted him more than a week ago to recover its constitutional footing.
A delegation of Kyrgyz legislators will travel to Moscow today to negotiate final terms of the resignation, according to the speaker of the country’s new parliament, Omurbek Tekebayev.
“We have received the president’s verbal agreement,” Tekebayev told Agence France-Presse yesterday. He said that if negotiations failed, the parliament would start impeachment proceedings. A parliament member confirmed Tekebayev’s statement.
Akayev’s resignation would calm Kyrgyzstan’s stormy political waters and allow the nation’s focus to shift from the ouster to presidential elections in June. Many senior Kyrgyz politicians have announced their intent to run.
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There are high hopes among Kyrgyz democracy advocates that with national and international attention so focused on the election, the voting could finally establish Kyrgyzstan as a truly democratic state.
Akayev fled the Kyrgyz capital March 24 as mass protests outside the presidential compound turned violent. Demonstrators broke through a security cordon around the building and damaged the inside, beating several senior officials severely.
But the leaders who quickly filled the vacuum Akayev left behind have struggled to establish their legitimacy in the absence of his formal resignation.
They recognized the new parliament, whose election had set off the protest movement, with the caveat that the positions of some of the newly elected members would be revoked because of campaign and voting abuses.
The parliament called for new presidential elections on June 26, but none of the government’s actions have been constitutional because Akayev remains the legal head of state until his mandate ends in October.
Akayev had demanded that in return for his resignation he be allowed to address the parliament and the nation. But Kyrgyzstan’s new government is reluctant to give him such a platform, fearing it could incite new unrest.
Acting President Kurmanbek Bakiyev said he could not guarantee Akayev’s safety if he returned to the country.
“He shouldn’t come to Kyrgyzstan, whether it’s for five or 10 minutes. It will cause a huge amount of negative feeling and discontent,” he told the Interfax news agency.
The March 24 uprising was fueled by resentment over alleged corruption and poor living standards in the impoverished nation of 5 million people. It was further stoked by ire over February and March parliamentary elections, which the opposition said were rigged to fill the 75-member legislature with pro-Akayev lawmakers. Akayev, 60, had led Kyrgyzstan since 1990, before it gained independence in the Soviet collapse. He was long considered the most democratic leader in the five ex-Soviet Central Asian nations, but was accused of increasingly cracking down on dissent in recent years and was reviled for alleged corruption.
Information from the Los Angeles Times and The Associated Press is
included in this report.