Protests Blanket Kyrgyzstan

Protesters in the impoverished and remote Kyrgyzstan look to the West to support them in their own “velvet revolution”. Here is the latest on the demonstrations in the remote central asian country where the separate news organization’s stories combine to give a much greater picture of the state of affairs:

Angry protests continued in the southern Kyrgyz city of Jalal-Abad on Monday, as thousands of people – supporters of opposition candidates who ran for parliament from the area – called for the resignation of Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev and a re-run to last week’s parliamentary elections.

Daily life has been at a standstill in the provincial capital for four days after protesters wearing rose coloured bows and scarves occupied three storeys of the region’s main administration building. On windows left open, demands written on the same colour cloth calling for the country’s leadership to resign fluttered in the breeze, as did demands for a free and fair run-off election on 13 March. Orozaly Karasartov, a spokesman for the provincial governor, told IRIN that almost all officials in the building had left their offices.

While pink was the colour of the People’s Movement of Kyrgyzstan (PMK), uniting nine opposition parties and groups in the former Soviet republic, protesters were not rallying in favour of a particular candidate who failed, but rather against vote-fixing and election irregularities, movement activists told IRIN…

…On Thursday, a small explosive device was thrown at the Bishkek apartment of prominent Kyrgyz opposition leader Roza Otunbaeva, the co-leader of the opposition Ata-Jurt (Fatherland) movement and a former foreign minister. Although no injuries were reported in the blast, speaking at a news conference later, Otunbaeva suggested a possible government connection. “This is an attempt by the authorities to intimidate the opposition,” she told IRIN in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek. “Behave yourself, otherwise things could get worse. They are warning.”

Otunbaeva, an outspoken critic the president, had along with other prominent opposition members been barred from running in the election, with authorities claiming she was ineligible because she had not resided continuously in the country over the last five years.

On Sunday, about 1,000 people in Kyrgyzstan’s eastern Naryn province blocked a key road connecting the province to Bishkek, Radio Free Europe reported. The demonstrators were protesting against a decision by the local election commission to bar an opposition candidate from running in the second round of balloting.

They demanded that candidate Ishenbai Kadyrbekov be allowed to run in the 13 March second round of parliamentary elections. The local election commission had barred Kadyrbekov from running, saying his campaign team broke election rules. Kadyrbekov is appealing the commission decision and a court was due to consider the appeal on Monday.

Calls are mounting for the President to resign and demonstrations continue in the different provinces:

In Jalal-Abad some 3,000 demonstrators occupied the regional administration building. Another 300 protesters were occupying the district administration building in the Osh Oblast town of Uzgen.

About 1,500 people demonstrated outside the regional administration building in the eastern city of Naryn. (see Naryn above)

The Opposition Leaders continue to back the early parliamentary session called for next week to resolve the current situation:

The opposition sees one of the options for normalizing the course of developments in convening an extraordinary session of both chambers of national parliament and extending its powers for another year in order to call an early presidential election. After that, they suggest holding a repeat parliamentary election.

Opposition leaders claim that 70 percent of MPs are in favor of this idea.

“We are ready to lead the people but we wish to act within the bounds of the Constitution,” one of the opposition leaders, former Education Minister Ishengul Boldzhurova, pointed out. According to her, “the authorities are going to undertake extraordinary measures to remain in power.”

The opposition continues to stage mass rallies across the country. The strategic Bishkek-Torugart highway linking Kyrgyzstan with China remains blocked by protesters for the second day running. On Monday, some 300 people took to the streets in Karakol, the capital of the Issyk-Kul region.

Update: (6:45 AM) The Great Instapundit is sharing this hopeful story with his vast audience.

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