Unrestflares in Kyrgyzstan – The New York Times


JALALABAD, Kyrgyzstan — Antigovernment protesters angered by alleged election fraud have stormed a government building and kidnapped a governor and another senior official, as crowds on Tuesday called for President Askar Akayev to step down.

The opposition has accused the authorities of widespread abuses in runoff elections on Sunday, in which Akayev secured an overwhelmingly loyal Parliament.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said the vote had significant shortcomings.

About 3,000 protesters occupied a regional government building late Monday in Talas, about 400 kilometers, or 250 miles, west of the capital, Bishkek, and were holding the regional governor and the head of the Bakayyt district hostage, according to Nurdin Batyrbekov, an Interior Ministry spokesman.

The protesters in Talas – supporters of a candidate who had lost, according to the vote count, Ravshan Jeyenbekov – have demanded that the results of the runoff in the Bakayyt district be thrown out.

Also on Monday, more than 10,000 people seized a district administration building in Uzgen and forced election officials there to acknowledge fraud, throw out initial runoff results and announce that an opposition candidate, Adakhan Madumarov, had won.

The elections on Sunday set the stage for a presidential election in October in this former Soviet republic. The opposition fears that Akayev could use a compliant Parliament to extend his 15-year-long leadership.

The government has dismissed allegations of irregularities during the first round of voting and the runoffs.

Among the newly elected lawmakers are Akayev’s daughter, Bermet, and son, Aidar.

Scores of opposition supporters were gathering on the main square in Jalalabad on Tuesday, chanting: “Akayev go!” They were expected to be joined later by opposition leaders.

Jalalabad is the home of Kurmanbek Bakiyev, a former prime minister who lost his bid for Parliament on Sunday. Demonstations began in the southern city on March 4 against alleged violations in the first round of voting on Feb. 27.

Many at the rally on Tuesday wore pink scarves or pink ribbons, the color of the opposition People’s Movement of Kyrgyzstan led by Bakiyev, who plans to run for president in October.



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