Monday, June 07, 2010

AP: Top Kyrgyz government official resigns

By Leila Saralayeva

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan — Kyrgyzstan's fragile interim government suffered its first major defection Monday as the acting president's chief of staff announced his resignation and disclosed plans to create a new political party.

Edil Baisalov's departure from the government renews concerns about political stability in this volatile Central Asian nation, which was shaken earlier this year by a mass revolt that led to the toppling of then-President Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

"First of all, I am interested in seeing the events of April 7 through to their logical conclusion," Baisalov told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "In the popular uprising, we kicked out Bakiyev's corrupt family. ... Now we must return Kyrgyzstan to the path of democracy."

Over the coming months, political developments in Kyrgyzstan will be closely scrutinized by the United States and Russia, which both have military bases in the country.

Baisalov criticized appointments made by the provisional government and complained that corruption remained rampant.

"It worries me deeply that people without any education and with criminal records have come to power purely on the basis of party affiliation," he said.

Baisalov said his party will take part in the parliamentary election to be held in October. He urged members of government belonging to parties running in the election to step down over the coming week.

Most leading officials in the interim government also hold top positions in the parties most likely to compete for seats in parliament.

The interim government rose to power in early April after Bakiyev was ousted amid violent clashes between demonstrators and troops that claimed dozens of lives.

Acting President Roza Otunbayeva is set to lead the country until presidential elections in October 2011. But the stability of her government is likely to be tested in coming months by internal rivalries within the Cabinet.

Security also remains a concern amid uncertainty over the authorities' perceived inability to guarantee law and order.

Overnight Sunday, a leading criminal linked with recent unrest in the south was killed in a shootout between rival gangs, police said.

Local officials in the Jalal-Abad region said Aibek Mirsidikov, a Bakiyev supporter known locally as Black Aibek, helped organize the seizure of local government offices that sparked a wave of violence last month.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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