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Kyrgyz President: Corruption Still Widespread

Acting President of the Central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan, Kurmanbek Bakiev, assured the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe that the upcoming presidential elections will meet international standards. But he added much still needs to be done to rid the country of corruption so there can be no return to the old authoritarian system. The acting president addressed a special session of the OSCE permanent council in Vienna.

Mr. Bakiev said the presidential election scheduled for next month cannot be manipulated and there will be no pressure on voters.

He says the election will be free unlike those held at the beginning of the year which sparked protests and led to the fall of President Askar Akaev. Mr. Bakiev said law and order is now restored but corruption has penetrated all spheres of life including the judicial system, law enforcement and many economic sectors.

Mr. Bakiev says the highest priority for the new government is work on a plan to combat corruption and implement market economy reforms.

The acting president told reporters he was very concerned with the uneasy situation in neighboring Uzbekistan.

The United States delegation to the OSCE said it hoped that Uzbek refugees who crossed the border into Kyrgyzstan following the recent violent events in Andijon will not be forcibly returned to Uzbekistan.

Mr. Bakiev said it was to too early to say what the fate of the refugees would be until a commission had investigated the matter with the help of the United Nations. The OSCE will have over 300 international observers in Kyrgyzstan to monitor the July 10 presidential elections.