OSCE Envoy Says Kyrgyz 'Interim Government' Has Talks With Bakiev
Last updated (GMT/UTC): 10.04.2010 20:11
BISHKEK -- While Kyrgyzstan mourned its dead today, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) envoy has said that the country's interim government has held negotiations with President Kurmanbek Bakiev on ways to end the political crisis in the country.
Speaking to reporters in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek on April 10, OSCE envoy Zhanybek Karibzhanov said: "The interim government is ready to hold negotiations. The first attempt to hold such talks took place last night."
Reuters reported that the envoy said: "I can't say anything yet on the results of the talks but the most important thing is that the process has started." He added that he had met officials from the provisional government, but not Bakiev.
The envoy's remarks came as thousands of people gathered at Ata Beit cemetery in Bishkek on April 10 for the funeral of 16 people, who died in bloody clashes between antigovernment protesters and security forces earlier this week.
Roza Otunbaeva, the head of Kyrgyzstan's self-proclaimed new cabinet, and members of her team also attended the funeral.
Addressing some 10,000 mourners, Otunbaeva blamed the deaths on the government of Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev who fled Bishkek in the aftermath of the protests.
"The regime became the enemy of the people when it opened fire on its patriots, the best sons of the nation, and we will do our best to install a just power in Kyrgyzstan," Otunbaeva told the crowd.
Omurbek Tekebaev, a member of Otunbaeva's team, paid tribute to the victims and renewed pledges for a "true democracy" in Kyrgyzstan.
"It was a fight for dignity. Kyrgyz people won this struggle. It was a fight for the liberty of the Kyrgyz people under the slogan of 'Life and Freedom'. And the Kyrgyz people have won this fight," Tekebaev said.
Antigovernment protests that culminated in violent scenes in Bishkek on April 7 have left at least 79 people dead and over 1,000 injured.
The interim leaders have promised to pay some $25,000 in compensation to families of the victims.
In other developments, some 300 people reportedly gathered today in the southern town of Jalal-Abad, where support for Bakiev is strongest.
However, out of respect for the victims of the unrest, local elders decided to postpone a planned rally in the town on the day of mourning across the nation.
A native of the south, Bakiev has fled the capital for Jalal-Abad. Otunbaeva has offered safe passage to Bakiev to leave the country if he resigns from his post. Bakiev, however, has refused to relinquish power.
Capital Returning To Normal
After days of chaos and looting, the Kyrgyz capital was calm on April 10 as some shops and business reopened.
RFE/RL correspondent Bruce Pannier, who is in Bishkek, says life in the city is returning to normal.
"Cars again filled the streets and police were visible throughout the city performing their regular duties. People walked around Bishkek and dropped by stores to buy the usual products they need," Pannier says.
"Talking to people around Bishkek one is first struck by the fact that everyone says they were at the scene or played some role in the events of April 7. Taxi drivers say they were at the scene, waiters say they helped carry wounded protesters away from the violence, and people on the street say they were outside the Kyrgyz White House supporting calls for President Bakiev and his government to resign."
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says it has provided medical supplies to Kyrgyz hospitals to treat over 500 people wounded during the riots.
"Our first humanitarian flight since the events of last Wednesday complements the assistance that local health facilities have provided," said Claudia Azzolini, head of the ICRC mission in Kyrgyzstan. "This delivery will help cover the remaining needs."
RFE/RL correspondent Jamie Kirchik, who is in Bishkek, says for some people it is still unclear who exactly is in charge of the country.
"At the funeral, I interviewed Feliks Kulov, former prime minister under Bakiev and a former KBG agent and Bishkek mayor. He complained about the disorganization of the interim government due to the fact that parliament was dissolved and Bakiev is still officially president of the country. 'Foreign delegations don't know who to meet with,' he said. There is 'constitutional confusion," Kirchik said.
"[Kulov] cited an old Kyrgyz proverb: 'a two-headed sheep can't be boiled in one kettle.' He said that 'prosecutors should open a criminal case' but that 'parliament needs to supply evidence to the constitutional court' to try Bakiev, but that is impossible now that parliament has been dissolved."
Questions About Air Base
The latest political upheaval in Kyrgyzstan has raised concerns about the stability in the impoverished nation that hosts both U.S. and Russian military bases.
Rickardo Bodden, a spokesman at the U.S. Manas air base outside Bishkek, said all flights carrying troops from the base were suspended from April 8.
Reuters quoted the spokesperson as saying, "while normal flight operations at Manas were resumed on Friday, a decision was taken Friday evening to temporarily divert military passenger transport flights."
Manas plays a vital role for the U.S.-led coalition's military operations in Afghanistan. U.S. military officials, however, said the disruption at the base in Kyrgyzstan has not yet had a significant impact on operations in Afghanistan.
(Written by Farangis Najibullah with contributions from Bruce Pannier, Jamie Kirchick, and Mirasror Ahrorov in Bishkek, and Ainura Asankojoeva in Prague)
Copyright (c) 2010. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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