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Kyrgyzstan`s new rulers struggle to restore order

Last Updated: Sunday, April 18, 2010 - 16:05

Jalalabad: Kyrgyzstan`s interim rulers ran into fresh hostility in the restive south on Sunday after supporters of the country`s deposed president laid siege to regional government headquarters.

Kurmanbek Bakiyev, toppled in a violent popular revolt on April 07, went into exile last week after days of turmoil that threatened civil war and disrupted military flights from a crucial US air base that supports operations in nearby Afghanistan.

The new government, which has yet to be formally recognised globally, says it controls the entire nation, but the situation appeared fluid in the south, Bakiyev`s tribal stronghold.

Persistent uncertainly in Kyrgyzstan is a worry for the United States and Russia, both of which operate military air bases in the impoverished Muslim nation of 5.3 million.

Bakiyev supporters broke into a regional government office in the southern city of Jalalabad late on Saturday and briefly seized a local television channel, witnesses said.

Reports said the building was guarded by a group of men who identified themselves as Bakiyev loyalists.

The situation appeared calm and did not change throughout the day. No police or security forces appeared to be in sight.

The government says it would not use force to intervene, saying stability will return after a while.

"The wave of lawlessness and criminal infighting has reached Jalalabad," said Edil Baisalov, the interim chief of staff. "Like elsewhere, this region will also return to calm."

Any further turbulence in a country with a south-north divide is worrisome since the south lies at the heart of Central Asia`s most flammable corner where hundreds died in the 1990s in ethnic clashes between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz.

Almaz Atambayev, an interim deputy premier, arrived in the ancient Silk Road city of Osh in the south in a show of support.

"The aim of my visit is to show that not only the north but also the south supports the new government," he said.

A few dozen protesters remained outside, some holding banners in support of Bakiyev`s defence minister, who was arrested by the interim government last week.

"We voted for Bakiyev. He is our president. I don`t believe that he resigned. I want him back," said Sultan-Maksut Dubanayev, a 55-year-old resident of Jalalabad.

Bureau Report

First Published: Sunday, April 18, 2010 - 16:05

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