Violent protests break out in Kyrgyzstan over allegedly rigged parliamentary elections

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Monday, March 21, 2005

The flag of Kyrgyzstan Source: SKopp

At least 10,000 protesters stormed government buildings, burnt down a police station, and took control of an airport to prevent reinforcements from being flown into Jalal-Abad, Kyrgyzstan today as they demanded the resignation of president Askar Akayev. The protesters claim that recent parliamentary elections were rigged.

According to a police source in the capital of Bishkek, four police were beaten to death in clashes with protesters.

Last week, Akayev warned civil war would break out if there was an attempt to copy the Ukrainian "Orange Revolution." However, the government says it wants a peaceful resolution. "We have never gone against our own people, especially not with weapons in our hands," Prime Minister Nikolai Tanayev said.

Opposition leader Kurmanbek Bakiyev says negotiations will only be fruitful if president Akayev himself is involved. "All other lower level negotiations will be just a waste of time," Bakiyev said.

The U.S. state department issued a statement saying the situation could be dealt with "according to the rule of law," and spokesman Adam Ereli said, "U.S. officials have been in contact with both the government and opposition to reinforce this message."

The OSCE stated the elections did not properly measure up to international standards, citing "lack of effective voter access to diverse sources of information, bias in the media, continued de-registration of candidates on minor grounds..., and inaccurate and poorly maintained voter lists."

Sources

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