Kyrgyz president orders election probe as protesters seize control of second city

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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The flag of Kyrgyzstan Source: SKopp

Thousands of protesters seized control of a second city in Kyrgyzstan as President Askar Akayev ordered a probe into allegations that the elections were seriously flawed on Monday.

“The south of the country is under the control of the people. Now we should concentrate on [the capital of] Bishkek,” said former ambassador to Britain and opposition leader Roza Otunbayeva to The Times. “We have only one demand — that Akayev should resign.”

President Akayev ordered the Central Election Commission and Supreme Court to begin an investigation into allegations that sparked the protests. According to his office, he ordered them "to pay particular attention to those districts where election results provoked extreme public reaction ... and tell people openly who is right and who is wrong."

About 1,000 protesters armed with flammable liquid and clubs seized the governor's building in Osh, Kyrgyzstan's second-largest city. The crowd of protesters, which swelled to 2,000, then seized the regional police and security stations of the city located 300 kilometres south of Bishkek.

"This is a new day in our history," said an opposition official named Omurbek Tekebayev. He also said the opposition would hold elections for alternative executive bodies throughout the country, and that they plan to call the presidential election, which is scheduled for October of 2005, within three months.

According to Tekebayev, the deputy regional police chief has joined the opposition and will be in charge of police under the new regional government.

Elsewhere in the country, at least 17,000 people continued to protest the alleged electoral fraud.

Protesters also seized control of the southern city of Jalal-Abad on Sunday.

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