Kyrgyzstan: U.S. Urges Opposition To Exercise Restraint, Follow Rule Of Law
By Andrew Tully
The U.S. State Department says that, like other countries, America takes great interest in the stability of Kyrgyzstan, and rejected some published reports that it is responsible for the protests there. Spokesman Adam Ereli devoted much of yesterday's press briefing to the tumultuous events in the Central Asian nation.
Washington, 25 March 2005 (RFE/RL) -- For the second time this week, U.S. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli urged opposition activists in Kyrgyzstan to use restraint.
"As the Kyrgyz people handle unfolding events and determine their political and national future," Ereli said, "they [should] do so with respect for the peaceful expression of views, a tolerance of a diversity of views, and a resolution of differences through dialogue, and that they work through institutions -- existing institutions -- within the rule of law to resolve those differences."
Mass protests in Kyrgyzstan yesterday toppled the government. Kurmanbek Bakiev, one of the leaders of the Kyrgyz opposition, said today that parliament has named him acting president, as well as prime minister. Bakiyev told crowds of supporters in the capital, Bishkek, that he would seek to form a government. Yesterday, lawmakers appointed Bakiev only as prime minister. Parliament named Ishenbai Kadyrbekov as interim president to replace Askar Akaev, whose location remains unclear.
Ereli said Washington could not confirm that Akaev had left the country. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, traveling in Central America, said the same thing.
In Washington, Kyrgyz ambassador to the U.S. Baktybek Abdrissaev said Akaev has not resigned. He did not give Akaev's location, but said he is "safe."
"I have no information about his location, but he is in a safe place," Abdrissaev said.
According to Ereli, the U.S. government has been discussing concerns about stability in Kyrgyzstan with its ambassador in Bishkek, with Russian officials, and with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. He reminded Kyrgyz activists that the international community is watching them with great interest.
Yesterday, the demonstrators released from prison Felix Kulov, a former Kyrgyz vice president and now head of the leading opposition party, Ar-Namys. But at the daily State Department press briefing, Ereli said the United States has no favorite among the opposition leaders.
"Our position is that the future of Kyrgyzstan should be decided by the people of Kyrgyzstan, consistent with the principles of peaceful change," Ereli said.
During the briefing, one reporter asked about reports in some Russian media that the United States is the "mastermind" of the events in Kyrgyzstan.
"We're not the mastermind," Ereli said. "We are, like the rest of the international community, a very interested party in the stability and the success of democracy in Kyrgyzstan. And we are working together as partners with our friends in international organizations in Europe and in Central Asia to help the Kyrgyz people find their way to that resolution."
Rumsfeld, visiting Guatemala, also was asked about the status of about 1,000 U.S. forces at the Manas military base outside the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, who provide support for security and peacekeeping efforts in Afghanistan. The defense secretary said he expects no problems.
However, Ereli said the State Department has issued an advisory urging Americans to be cautious about travel to Kyrgyzstan. It says Americans already in Kyrgyzstan should avoid crowds and demonstrations.
Copyright (c) 2005. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|