BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan – Political uncertainties intensified Sunday in a struggle between rival parliaments as Kyrgyzstan’s interim leaders sought to overcome deep disputes and bring the impoverished nation a measure of sta-bility after the ouster of its president.
Police backed by civilian volunteers solidified control of the capital after several nights of looting and gunfire, but the conflict between the parliaments raised troubling questions over the future governance of the former Soviet republic of 5 million people.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, of which Kyrgyzstan is a member, was sending legal experts in an attempt to unravel the confusion.
“We think the need for them is urgent,” said envoy Alojz Peterle, who said the dispute is “very, very sensitive.”
Since President Askar Akayev was ousted by demonstrators who stormed his offices on Thursday, his backers have given little indication that they aim for a comeback. About 150 people blocked a highway on Sunday in support of Akayev, who has fled to Russia, but dispersed peacefully.
Anxieties are high in the country and the struggle for legislative power could interfere with officials’ efforts to fight poverty, corruption and repression – the opposition’s main complaints against Akayev.
A key former opposition leader now in charge of coordinating law enforcement warned the ousted president’s supporters not to try to seize power.
During an interview with the Associated Press in Bishkek late Sunday, Felix Kulov stated: “I think they have the brains and wisdom not to take this step.”
He also cautioned, however, that Kyrgyzstan’s new leaders must strictly follow the constitution and law or risk giving Akayev “an opportunity to try, through international organizations, to return again (to power).”
Protests began even before the first round of parliamentary elections on Feb. 27 and swelled after March 13 run-offs that the opposition said were seriously flawed. U.S. and European officials concurred.
The Supreme Court reinstated the country’s previous parliament by revoking the mandates of the new lawmakers, and the restored old legislature chose opposition leader Kurmanbek Bakiyev as acting president and prime minister. The newly elected parliament, which had convened just two days before Akayev fled, also claimed legitimacy.
The Central Elections Commission backed that claim on Saturday and a day later came surprise backing from Kulov, who is widely esteemed by the opposition after spending the last four years in prison on charges seen as politically motivated.
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