Sat, Apr 17, 2010 - Page 1 News List

Kyrgyz president formally resigns after deadly turmoil

REUTERS, BISHKEK

Deposed Kyrgyz president Kurmanbek Bakiyev formally resigned in a hand-written letter faxed to Kyrgyzstan’s new leaders, officials said yesterday, allaying fears of civil war in the strategic Central Asian country.

Bakiyev fled to neighboring Kazakhstan on Thursday, ending days of turmoil that disrupted US military flights through a Kyrgyz air base to operations in Afghanistan.

The crisis has underlined rivalries between the US and Russia for influence in Central Asia, a vast region between China, Afghanistan and the Caspian Sea.

The interim government, led by Roza Otunbayeva, said Bakiyev had faxed his resignation letter overnight from Kazakhstan.

“I tender my resignation in these tragic days as I understand the full scale of my responsibility for the future of the Kyrgyz people,” Bakiyev said in the letter.

Its text was posted on the Twitter account of the interim chief of staff, often used by his team to make announcements. A photograph showed Otunbayeva scrutinizing the letter.

Bakiyev’s departure has sharply reduced tensions in the impoverished former Soviet republic after a violent uprising against his five-year rule raised the specter of civil war.

He has not appeared in public since fleeing. Officials say he is in the Kazakh city of Taraz with his wife and two children. Russian media say he could fly on to Turkey or Latvia.

Taraz, a sleepy town in the southern Kazakh steppe on the Kyrgyz border, overflowed with rumors after Bakiyev’s arrival.

A local security source said Bakiyev had been whisked to a secret location in Taraz and locals saw a motorcade of jeeps without number plates driving out of the airport overnight.

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