Kyrgyz Opposition Leader Promises New Election

Kyrgyz opposition leader Kurmanbek Bakiev pledged to hold new elections after protesters seized control of the main government headquarters.

Kyrgyz Protesters Storm Government Building (Reuters)

Kyrgyz opposition protesters forced their way into the main government building on Thursday, demanding the resignation of veteran President Askar Akayev. Heavily-armed security forces, who had earlier ringed the White House — the seat of government — withdrew as protesters poured into the building. One could be seen waving a flag from the second floor. Above, another protester tossed documents out to the cheering crowd of thousands below.

Troops repelled an initial attempt to storm the building, its many windows now smashed. This correspondent had earlier heard several gunshots in the capital Bishkek where fighting broke out between supporters of Akayev and thousands of opposition demonstrators. It was not clear if anyone had been hit, but witnesses saw several people from both sides, as well as policemen, who had been badly beaten. Pools of blood were visible after the fighting.

The whereabouts of Akayev, who has been in power for 14 years, were not known.


Update (0703): Kyrgyz Opposition Leader Promises New Election (Reuters)

A Kyrgyz opposition leader on Thursday pledged to hold new elections after protesters seized control of the main government headquarters. “We will establish order. We will not allow looting. We will hold our own elections to start our rule,” declared former prime minister Kurmanbek Bakiev who has emerged as one of the key figures in the protests against the rule of President Askar Akayev.

Charges that parliamentary elections in February and March were rigged triggered the opposition protests that began in the south of the country.

That was fast.

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.