Central Asia Theater
What is now being dubbed Kyrgyzstan's "Tulip Revolution" is starting to look considerably less than velvet. The country remains divided, with ousted president Askar Akayev in hiding but refusing to step down, and some protests and even road blockades reported in his support. (AP, March 28) Looting and sporadic gunfire continue, with armed bands roaming the streets of Bishkek, the capital.
The first real evidence of a U.S. hand in the recent murky revolution in Kyrgyzstan has emered in the form of a "secret report" purportedly written by U.S. Ambassador Stephen M. Young, which appears on the website of Kabar, the Kyrgyz National News Agency. Kabar appears to remain in the hands of loyalists to ousted President Akayev, and we make no claims as to the authenticity of the letter.
World media reported just yesterday that opposition lawmaker Ishenbai Kadyrbekov had been appointed interim president by Parliament following the ouster of Kyrgyzstan's long-ruling strongman Askar Akayev in a popular uprising. But on March 25, AP reports that a better-known opposition figure with a questionable past, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, has been named interim president—and prime minister. Reads the report:
After several days of parallel power, in which opposition protesters had seized control of provinicial cities but not the capital, the government of Kyrgyzstan fell March 24. Angry protests broke out in Bishkek, the capital, and crowds repeatedly attempted to storm the White House, the central government building. At first security forces repulsed the protesters, but eventually gave way, allowing them to take the building.
The Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan is divided by a popular uprising in the wake of contested elections, with the government of President Askar Akayev in control in the northern capital, Bishkek, but the southern city of Osh now in the hands of opposition protesters. Normality is starting to return to Osh following a wave of strikes and protests which culminated in the ouster of the official governor Kubanych Joldoshev and installation in power of an opposition leader, Anvar Artykov, who the central government refuses to recognize.
The world is paying little note, but there is a popular uprising underway following contested elections in Kyrgyzstan, a key US ally in Central Asia. On March 20, protesters rallying against President Askar Akayev burned down police headquarters in the southern city of Jalal-Abad, in response to a pre-dawn action by special police units who briefly took back control of a regional administration office that had been occupied by opposition activists since early March.
Uighur businesswoman Rebiya Kadeer, freed from a Chinese prison in an apparent deal with Washington, arrived in Chicago March 17, rejoicing at her unexpected release and vowing to work "for the entire Uighur nation."
Assailants threw a grenade into the empty apartment of a prominent Kyrgyz opposition leader March 3, causing no casualties, in an attack both opposition and authorities accused each other of staging.