Mon, Aug 15, 2005 - Page 5 News List

Bakiyev swears to defend rights as Kyrgyzstan's leader

AFP , BISHKEK

Kurmanbek Bakiyev officially assumed the post of Kyrgyzstan's president yesterday by swearing an oath on the country's Constitution, one month after winning a landslide victory at a July 10 poll in the Central Asian republic.

"Taking on the functions of the Kyrgyz Republic's president, I swear before the people and the holy mountains to respect and defend the Kyrgyz Republic's Constitution and law, to guarantee the rights and liberties of all citizens, and to fulfill the president's functions, given me by popular trust, honorably and tirelessly," Bakiyev said, to cheers from onlooking troops.

Bakiyev, who has been acting president since a wave of protest ousted the country's first post-Soviet leader Askar Akayev in March, swept the board at the presidential poll with nearly 89 percent of the vote.

The inauguration ceremony, held on the capital's central square behind police cordons and attended by some 5,000 invited dignitaries, began with a military parade.

Neighboring Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev was the only foreign head of state to attend however.

Russia was represented by the chairman of the upper house of its Federation Council, Sergei Mironov, while the US sent Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez.

In a speech, Bakiyev hailed the occasion as a milestone for this impoverished mountain republic of some 5 million people, which lies on China's western edge.

"Despite ... difficulties, we have established democracy and the power of the people. It is our great victory. I congratulate all those who have fought for their commitment to democratic principles since the earliest days of independence ... " Bakiyev said.

"Above all our society should regain the principles of decency and honesty that are among the most ancient characteristics of Central Asia. This requires an honest state that works for the good of the people. We must restore respect for the authorities and the law," Bakiyev said.

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