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Kyrgyzstan Review, 10 years ago




[13.09.2OO2] Hundreds of protesters end march in Kyrgyzstan after standoff with police and officials

Hundreds of opposition protesters who were marching across Kyrgyzstan to demand the resignation of President Askar Akayev dispersed Friday after a six-day standoff with police and local authorities, officials and opposition activists said.
 
The protesters had set off from the southern city of Tash-Kumyr late last month toward the capital Bishkek, calling on Akayev to step down. They were also demanding the release of people arrested in earlier protests and legal action against police who fired on a crowd of demonstrators in March.
 
But when the protesters reached the town of Kara-Kul, about 400 kilometers (248 miles) south of the capital, last Sunday, a standoff ensued with local authorities, who organized rival demonstrations, bringing in busloads of local government officials. One human rights activist said officials at one point canceled school and forced schoolchildren to shout at the protesters to go home.
 
On Friday, following negotiations with government officials and lawmakers who arrived in Kara-Kul the day before, the protesters agreed to disperse. The Kyrgyz government's press service said the protesters withdrew their demands and were transported back to their home regions.
 
However, opposition deputies in parliament said the protesters had agreed to go home only temporarily, to give the government time to meet their demands.
 
Kyrgyzstan, which is hosting anti-terrorist troops for operations in nearby Afghanistan, has been wracked by political instability for much of this year.
 
At least five people died in March when police opened fire on a demonstration in the country's south the worst political violence since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. The violence sparked nationwide protests and calls for Akayev to step down.
 
Akayev's entire Cabinet resigned in May in a bid to quell the public's anger. The president has since appointed a council that is looking at possible changes to the country's political system.
 
Associated Press, September 13, 2002

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