News / Asia

US, Kyrgyzstan Holding Talks Amid Political Crisis

Flag-waving demonstrator climbing a tower at the Kyrgyz Defense Ministry, in Bishkek, 14 Apr 2010
Flag-waving demonstrator climbing a tower at the Kyrgyz Defense Ministry, in Bishkek, 14 Apr 2010

An American envoy is holding talks in Bishkek with the leadership that replaced Kyrgyzstan's president last week and has now stripped him of his immunity.  Forces loyal to President Kurmanbek Bakiev fired on anti-government demonstrators last Wednesday.  Authorities say 84 deaths have been confirmed and hundreds more who were wounded are still hospitalized.  That has emotions remaining high in one of the poorest countries of the former Soviet Union.

On the grounds of the Defense Ministry, where Kyrgyzstan's interim leader has set up her temporary office, a small-but-angry crowd has gathered demanding the deposed president be brought to the capital to face justice.

Some here are evidently growing impatient with the lingering standoff between the provisional government and Mr. Bakiev, who is in the southern part of the Central Asian country, and are upset about a possible deal that would allow him to depart the country.

The deposed president is hinting he might formally resign under, certain conditions, while ridiculing the leadership which took control after he fled the capital.

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, speaking in Washington, said the chances are "very high" for civil war in Kyrgyzstan.

VOA News asked interim leader Rosa Otunbaeva about that. She responded by noting that the defiant president has vowed to unleash further bloodshed, should the forces now loyal to the provisional leadership move against him.

"He's in the corner. He would probably try to do that sort of stuff. But we have also plans and we are acting," she said.

Ms. Otunbaeva reiterated that the president should resign and "safely leave the country."

She made her remarks just after a meeting with the highest American official to visit Kyrgyzstan since the political crisis erupted.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Robert Blake, is holding two days of meetings with officials of the interim government.  

The U.S. Embassy here says it is "fully committed" to working with the provisional leadership.

Some who are in the temporary government blame the United States for being too cozy with Mr. Bakiev and not sufficiently criticizing what they regard as his corrupt nepotistic five years in office, which they say were riddled with human rights violations.  

Speaking to reporters, Ambassador Blake says the United States is ready to support the interim government with its plans to re-draft the constitution and to hold  democratic elections within six months.  

"I feel optimistic about the steps that the government already is taking and we look forward to helping to support that process as it moves forward," he said.

A critical element of the relationship between Washington and Bishkek is the controversial use of Manas airport as a transit and logistical base by U.S. troops fighting insurgents in nearby Afghanistan.  

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