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Kyrgz Political Crisis Continues; OSCE Dispatches Legal Experts

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is dispatching three constitutional experts to Kyrgyzstan to help resolve a political crisis over two rival parliaments competing for power in the aftermath of protests over disputed elections.

Residents of the capital awoke Sunday to a peaceful blanket of snow, after the first quiet night since Thursday's opposition storming of parliament sparked two nights of mass looting and unrest.

The city streets were quiet Sunday, with most people preferring to stay indoors, until the political situation is clarified. But downtown, lawmakers from rival parliaments, the one elected in the disputed poll, and the one that was in power before the vote, gathered to try and work out power mandates and portfolios.

At one point, the debate was briefly interrupted by an elderly lady who entered the gallery protesting loudly.

The woman, Natomaz Gima, told VOA that she was one of 17 representatives chosen by opposition demonstrators to press their demands after Thursday's protests, which caused President Askar Akayev to flee Kyrgyzstan for Russia.

Ms. Gima says she is frustrated that lawmakers are already losing track of the point, which she says, is to bring security and democracy to the country.

Instead, Ms. Gima says, the lawmakers seem more interested in grabbing political power, rather than talking about issues that matter to the people, like security and jobs.

She says the people demand free and fair elections - both for president and parliament.

The provisional government, led by acting President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, has set presidential elections for June 26, and announced his intention to run.

The special representative of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Alojz Peterle, told a news conference Sunday that much more must be done to improve the security situation in the country, before elections can be held.

He also says there is an urgent need to respond to unresolved political questions, such as the debate over which parliament is legitimate. To that end, Mr. Peterle says, the OSCE will urgently dispatch three constitutional experts to Bishkek this week.

"It is not the duty of OSCE to propose models of how the country should arrange itself," he said. "Whichever model or arrangement will be agreed, it will be judged by the people, by the OSCE, and international community on how it will strengthen [the] democratic process."

The questions arose after Kyrgyzstan's Central Election Commission said that the new parliament is the rightful and legitimate government.

That view contradicts an earlier Supreme Court ruling that annulled the recent parliamentary election results, which virtually shut out the opposition, and led to the people's protest.