Sat, Nov 04, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Kyrgyzstani president accuses foes

PLOTTERS?Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of the capital of the Central Asian nation to protest the regime of Kurmanbek Bakiyev


Kyrgyzstan's president, under pressure from mass opposition protests for his resignation, said yesterday that authorities had uncovered evidence the opposition was plotting to seize control of key state buildings.

As hundreds resumed their protests after an overnight vigil outside parliament, Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev said audio transcript showed protest organizers and some non-governmental agencies had discussed seizing state TV, the main presidency and government building, and SNB state security headquarters.

"Let's not get overtaken by emotion. There is no threat here. There are no forces to carry out a coup. But there are intentions. There is proof," Bakiyev told parliament.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of the Central Asian capital on Thursday demanding the resignation of Bakiyev who they say has backtracked on promises of democratic reforms.

Bakiyev's opponents have staged frequent protests since he was swept to power in a coup last year. They say his administration is corrupt and he has backtracked on promises to share more power with parliament and push through reforms.

After a lengthy standoff with the opposition-dominated parliament, Bakiyev agreed this week to alter the Constitution to water down his powers and hand more influence to parliament.

Opposition leaders laughed off Bakiyev's charges they had been planning to seize key state buildings.

Edil Baisalov, head of the Coalition of Democracy and Civil Society and also a member of the opposition For Reform! movement which has been running the protests, said: "We have shown our peaceful nature ... the For Reform! movement will only use peaceful and non-violent means."

Bakiyev spoke in conciliatory tones, saying he wanted the judicial system to deal with the allegations. But he added: "Politicians who are speaking of constitutional reform should not act like this."

The prime minister told an evening television debate "any attempt to destabilize the situation, I tell you with authority now, will be resolutely stopped."

Bakiyev was elected president after his predecessor, Askar Akayev, fled the country following violent protests against a flawed parliamentary election.

Bakiyev's control of the country has been fragile from the outset, raising the possibility he could suffer a similar fate to Akayev if protests continue. But the parliamentary opposition lined up against him is itself riven by division.

"On the whole, I believe there are no grounds for concern, for people to be worried ... Frankly speaking, all we have here is a fight for power," Bakiyev said in a Thursday television interview.

Bakiyev told parliament he would present the new Constitution on Monday that would define the responsibilities of the president and those of the parliament.

The opposition has vowed to occupy the square until the adoption of the reforms, which will deny the president the right to nominate the government and to dissolve parliament.

Approximately 500 police officers continued to stand guard near the main government building on the main square, which houses the presidency and the government.

Most businesses in the city center were closed, as owners feared the protests would degenerate into scenes of looting similar to those that characterized the revolution that toppled Akayev.

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