Ousted president issues demands

April 13, 2010 12:00 am

, TEYIT, Kyrgyzstan, Apr 13 – Kyrgyzstan\’s toppled president Kurmanbek Bakiyev on Tuesday offered to resign for the first time since he was ousted in protests, but only if he received security guarantees from his foes.

His offer came after the interim authorities warned Bakiyev that the country\’s special forces would arrest him if he failed to surrender and carried on holding rallies in his southern stronghold where he fled after the uprising.

But with still no compromise in sight and the interim government seeking to assert its authority in the capital after the protests that left 83 dead, the strategically crucial Central Asian country remained dangerously on the edge.

"What is the condition for me resigning? If the security of myself and my family are guaranteed," he told reporters in his home village of Teyit, just outside the southern city of Jalalabad.

"And second," Bakiyev added. "Stop people from running around the street with guns."

Bakiyev held the news conference in the open air beneath blossoming apricot trees inside a compound in Teyit with 25 armed guards holding Kalashnikovs and wearing military fatigues standing in line behind him.

Wearing his now trade mark blue pinstripe suit with an unbuttoned collar, he insisted he was still the legitimate president. He was surrounded by villagers, friends and family.

The interim government\’s deputy head Azimbek Beknazarov had said earlier that if Bakiyev did not give himself up, the authorities would launch an operation to detain him with the help of the special services.

But Bakiyev retorted: "I personally know their capabilities, I know they are not capable of any special operation. I am going to be sleeping soundly tonight."

The interim authorities earlier stripped Bakiyev of his immunity to prosecution.

"The temporary government has taken the decision to remove the immunity of the ex-president of Kyrgyzstan Kurmanbek Bakiyev," said Beknazarov.

"We can see that the president does not want to step down voluntarily and instead is issuing calls for actions against the people," said Beknazarov.

He accused Bakiyev of surrounding himself with Chechen mercenaries and preparing to resist any attempts to arrest him by force.

But chief of staff for the interim government, Edil Baisalov, told AFP that its head, ex-foreign minister Roza Otunbayeva, has not signed any document ordering the arrest of Bakiyev.

A court earlier issued a warrant for Bakiyev\’s brother and eldest son, as well as former prime minister Daniyar Usenov over the deaths in last week\’s protests.

The interior ministry confirmed 83 people had died in the protests that led to the ousting of Bakiyev, raising a previous toll. More than 560 people were still hospitalized and more than 1,600 were wounded, it said.

Bakiyev earlier held a rally in the centre of Jalalabad – his second in the region after emerging from hiding on Monday – where 5,000 supporters chanted his name and cheered wildly as the deposed leader took to the stage.

"Take your hands off the legitimate president!" said a banner.

Bakiyev – who himself came to power in a popular uprising known as the Tulip Revolution in 2005 – launched his speech with a defiant defence of his record as president.

But the rally ended peacefully with his supporters and the deposed president dispersing without any visible interference.

A top US diplomat – assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs Robert Blake – is due in Kyrgyzstan on Wednesday for talks with the interim government about security and the holding of elections.

Bakiyev had agreed a new accord with the United States on the Manas airbase in Kyrgyzstan vital to US military operations in Afghanistan, an agreement the new authorities have indicated they intend to honour.

"We don\’t recognize governments, we recognize states," Blake said when asked about whether Washington would recognize the interim government.

A US official said the situation with Bakiyev "remains unclear" and "needs to be managed by the Kyrgyz (people) themselves in accordance with the Kyrgyz constitution."


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