News / Asia

Kyrgyzstan President Loses Showdown with Southern Mayor

James Brooke

In a sharp setback to Kyrgystan's interim government, the powerful mayor of the nation's second largest city successfully resisted presidential pressure to resign from his appointed post.

Kyrgyzstan's split between south and north widened Friday as Melis Myrzakmatov returned in triumph from Bishkek, the nation's capital. He told his cheering supporters that he would remain Mayor of Osh, the capital of the nation's restive south.

On Thursday, Kommersant, a Russian newspaper, published an interview with the mayor who said he would refuse to recognize the interim government's authority and would not acknowledge the legitimacy of its decrees. For 24 hours the mayor's fate seemed to hang in the balance as Osh swirled with rumors that he had been arrested or was negotiating his resignation with envoys of Roza Otunbayeva, the interim president.

Watch Friday's Rally Kyrgyzstan's City of Osh:

Starting Thursday, increasingly angry crowds gathered outside the Mayor's office, a white Soviet era building facing a massive statue of Lenin. The mayor is seen as a hardline Kyrgyz nationalist, and crowds were swollen by relatives of Krygyz victims in the inter-ethnic violence that swept Osh in mid-June. Young men roughed up the only two foreign cameramen to venture onto the square.

Abdieva Turgunai, a protest organizer, told VOA that Kyrgyz turned out Friday to support their mayor because he will continue to stand up to the Uzbek community.  Hundreds of people were killed here in the inter-ethnic violence following the overthrow in April of former Kyrgyzstan president Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

In the middle of the afternoon, the crowd of 3,000 roared its approval as Mr. Myrzakmatov appeared in front of  City Hall.

The mayor said: 'I am going nowhere. I am with the people. I am with you."

The crowd, bolstered by the presence of horsemen from the countryside, started to chant: "Victory, victory."

Trying to bridge the north-south divide, Azimbek Beknazarov, deputy leader of the interim government, also appeared before the crowd. He gave a brief speech, saying: "Myrzakmatov is still the mayor of Osh, even though he was offered other jobs in the interim government.

But some men in the crowd heckled him. Then others hit and kicked him before he was able to escape in his car.

Supporters of the Mayor say he will block the arrival of 50 European police trainers, who were to come here this month to observe procedures by the overwhelmingly ethnic Kyrgyz police force.

The stationing of the trainers, under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, is widely seen as one price Kyrgyzstan has to pay to receive $1.1 billion in international reconstruction aid over the next year. But, the Mayor of Osh opposes the stationing of foreign police observers as interference in local police procedures.

On Monday, Human Rights Watch, the American human rights group, reported that Osh police continue to harass and sometimes torture members of the ethnic Uzbek minority, a group that suffered the greatest human and material violence in the inter-ethnic fighting two months ago.

Nadir an ethnic Uzbek human rights worker, who asked not to be further identified, talked Thursday about the need for foreign police observers. ''The OSCE police group has to come as soon as possible because the population does not believe in the law enforcement bodies because the police and interior force bodies are behaving in a very severe way to the ethnic minorities," he said.

With tensions high, foreign aid groups restricted travel by their workers around the city on Friday.

The city once again showed its split along ethnic lines.

Ms. Turgunai, the Kyrgyz nationalist, praised the mayor as an honest, hardworking, man who will stand up to the Uzbek minority. Nadir, the Uzbek human rights worker, said that Mayor is the core of the problem here.

"The Mayor's office has to be changed from the root, from the top to the bottom. Because the mayor has made his own team," he said.

But on Friday, with the Mayor firmly in charge here, Nadir said he was proceeding with plans to emigrate to Canada.

You May Like

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen; decision could come Monday More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid