Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev says he will not resign, despite a deadly uprising in his country and the formation of an interim government by the opposition.
Speaking on a Russian radio station Thursday, Mr. Bakiyev acknowledged he now has little influence over the government in Kyrgyzstan. He said he fled the capital, Bishkek, and is now in the southern part of the country trying to rally his supporters.
The political opposition in Kyrgyzstan has proclaimed a new government that it says will rule the country until elections are held in six months.
Opposition leader Rosa Otunbayeva, the former foreign minister, has demanded that President Bakiyev step down. She said the parliament has been dissolved and that she will head the new interim government. Otunbayeva also said the new government is in control of four of Kyrgyzstan's seven provinces, as well as the armed forces.
She said if President Bakiyev tries to take on the interim government, it will react.
The collapse of Mr. Bakiyev's government follows days of clashes between rioters and police in several cities. The demonstrators say they are upset over rampant corruption, nepotism and rising prices.
Thousands of protesters clashed with security forces in Bishkek Wednesday. The country's health ministry says at least 75 people were killed and more than 1,000 were wounded. Several buildings were set on fire, and witnesses say security forces shot at demonstrators.
Otunbayeva also said a U.S. air base in Kyrgyzstan that supports military operations in Afghanistan will remain open. In Washington, a Pentagon spokesman, Bryan Whitman, said there are limited operations at the Manas airfield. Whitman said U.S. support to Afghanistan has not been seriously affected by the events in Kyrgyzstan.
Tensions have been growing in the mountainous impoverished country of 5 million people over what activists say are the repressive policies of President Bakiyev.
Mr. Bakiyev first took office in 2005 after a similar opposition uprising called the Tulip Revolution. But since then, he has consolidated power, cracking down on the opposition and independent media.