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Kyrgyzstan's New Leaders Try to Restore Order - 2005-03-26


Kyrgyzstan's new leaders moved to consolidate their hold on power today (Saturday), trying to restore order after two days of massive looting and street violence that killed at least three people and injured many others.

Police patrols in Bishkek overnight fired gunshots in the air to disperse any crowds. Residents of the capital say looting has begun to decline.

Bishkek has been in turmoil since angry foes of the ousted president, Askar Akayev, rampaged through the city Thursday, seizing government buildings and forcing Mr. Akayev to flee.

Russia's Interfax news agency says the Kyrgyz president first left his homeland for Kazakhstan, and is now in Russia. The report has not been independently confirmed, but in Moscow, President Vladimir Putin said (Friday) he would not object if Mr. Akayev sought refuge on Russian soil.

Mr. Akayev sent an e-mail message from an undisclosed location Friday declaring he is still Kyrgyzstan's legitimate president. He said his absence from Bishkek is only temporary.

Opposition leader Kurmanbek Bakiyev, appointed by Parliament to lead an interim government, says a presidential poll will be held in three months (on June 26).

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