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Kyrgyzstan's President Refuses to Step Down


Kyrgyzstan President Kurmanbek Bakiyev has refused to step down even though the self-proclaimed new government says it will hold elections in six months.

Witnesses say the streets of Bishkek were calm early Friday morning even though sporadic gunfire was heard overnight. Vigilante groups organized by the country's self-proclaimed new government said they fought looters in the capital.

The new Kyrgz leadership, lead by former foreign minister Rosa Otunbayeva, says that parliament was dissolved on Thursday. A day earlier, demonstrators stormed government buildings, forcing President Kurmanbek Bakiyev to flee to the southern part of the country.

Otunbayeva has called for Mr. Bakiyev to step down. He has refused, despite her pleas.

Sagaibek Bergygulov is a Bishkek resident. He thinks it is time for the embattled leader to step aside.

He says we do not need Bakiyev. He is feeding only his family. He gave jobs to his relatives and his close ones. And people here are suffering. No jobs, corruption everywhere. They are stealing from the state.

Bishkek resident Kabulbek Khurmanov also says that Mr. Bakiyev needs to resign, otherwise there will be bloody consequences.

He says if he does not want more bloodshed and civil war, he should voluntarily hand over his presidential power to the people. If he persists, there will be more blood.

Meanwhile, the interim leader, Otunbaeva said that Russia had helped oust Mr. Bakiyev.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was one of the first world leaders to call Otunbayeva, on Thursday, which was widely seen as support for the new government. Mr. Putin also promised to provide humanitarian aid to Kyrgyzstan.

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