Kyrgyz protesters take hostages

Opposition forces in Kyrgyzstan have taken a regional governor hostage amid growing protests about the conduct of recent parliamentary elections in the Central Asian republic.

    Opposition groups have tried to harness widespread discontent

    Some 3000 supporters of opposition candidate Ravshan Zheyenbekov on Tuesday

    seized Iskender Aidaraliyev, governor of the northern Talas district, and another official with a demand that results of recent voting be reviewed in court, authorities in the capital Bishkek said.

     

    Some 4000 people also gathered in the southern town of Jalalabad to demand the resignation of Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev, the Russian news agency Interfax reported.

     

    The protesters in Jalalabad, wearing the pink silk ribbons and headscarves recently adopted by this former Soviet republic's fledgling opposition, gathered for a kurultai, or people's council meeting, at the office of Jalalabad's governor, which around 150 activists have occupied for the last 11 days.

     

    Widespread discontent

      

    Protesters are calling on Akayev
    to step down from office

    Akayev is "trying to set up a dynasty, a khanate ... they want to make us slaves", an oppositon activist yelled through a microphone at the crowd in Jalalabad's central square, watched over by several hundred soldiers and police trying to prevent more protesters entering the governor's building.

      

    Opposition groups have tried to harness widespread discontent at the elections, which went to a second round on 13 March, while Akayev's administration has repeatedly warned that any attempt at a Ukraine-style "revolution" could lead to civil war.

      

    Protests also continued elsewhere in this mountain republic, which borders Uzbekistan, China, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan.

     

    Demonstrators claim falsifications were perpetrated in favour of government-loyal candidates during the first round elections on 27 February and during run-offs held last Sunday.

     

    International observers were also critical of the polls in which the opposition won no more than seven seats in the 75-seat national parliament after candidates were excluded from voting lists.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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