Wed, Apr 14, 2010 - Page 5 News List

Interim Kyrgyz government to arrest Bakiyev

DEFIANT The ousted president warned the new leaders there would be ‘blood’ if they tried to arrest him, triggering accusations he was using human shields

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , BISHKEK AND TEYIT, KYRGYZSTAN

The provisional government that took power in Kyrgyzstan last week has drawn up plans to detain the country’s ousted president, a leader once close to the US who fled a bloody riot in the capital to his ancestral homeland in the south of the country.

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev re-emerged in public from his compound in a southern village on Monday to hold a rally of about 500 people — and taunt the new leaders to try to arrest him. If they do, Bakiyev said: “There will be blood.”

“Let them try to come and take me,” he told journalists after the rally. “Let them try to destroy me. There will be blood.”

The announcement about the interim government’s arrest plan came in a news conference in the capital, Bishkek. Almazbek Atambayev, deputy head of the interim government, said that only concern for innocent bystanders was delaying security forces from swooping in and arresting Bakiyev.

“These people are shielding themselves behind their countrymen, without conscience or honor,” Atambayev said. “We cannot allow innocent people to die again.”

The fate of Bakiyev — openly defiant but apparently powerless — has been a source of tension around the country since he fled the capital last week after riot police officers opened fire on antigovernment demonstrators, provoking a violent backlash. In the last few days, he has been receiving journalists from his refuge at his ­compound in the southern mountains in Teyit.

“Of course we would like him to run someplace, anyplace,” Atambayev said, but no country has offered asylum.

The new leaders had at first insisted the police would honor the president’s immunity from prosecution under the Kyrgyz Constitution, as he has not formally resigned his post.

Roza Otunbayeva, the leader of the interim government, suggested Bakiyev should face an international tribunal and raised the prospect in a meeting on Saturday with a UN special envoy.

On Monday, the US embassy in Bishkek issued a statement saying it would play no role in resolving Bakiyev’s status.

“The US embassy has no plans to shelter Bakiyev or help him leave Kyrgyzstan,” the embassy said.

The embassy also said that US Ambassador Tatiana Gfoeller met on Monday with Otunbayeva to express condolences over the loss of life last week.

At the rally, Bakiyev repeated his stance that he had no intention of surrendering. Still, Bakiyev said that he was open to negotiations with the interim government and renewed his call for an international commission to come to Kyrgyzstan to investigate last week’s violence.

His supporters held blue and red signs saying “Keep your hands off the legitimate president” and “Youth for the legitimate president.”

They accused the opposition of usurping Bakiyev’s authority and vowed to defend him should any attempt be made to arrest him.

Bakiyev’s options are shrinking as more and more regional leaders voice support for the interim government in Bishkek or resign, as have some of the top officials in his own home region.

Also See: US welcomes Kyrgyzstan decision to keep base deal

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