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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid