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Central & South Asia
Kyrgyz president 'offers to resign'
Bakiyev seeks safety guarantees to quit as interim government sends military to arrest him.
Last Modified: 13 Apr 2010 23:53 GMT
Bakiyev supporters have held demonstrations in the south of the country [EPA]

Kurmanbek Bakiyev, the president of Kyrgyzstan, has said he is ready to resign as long as his safety is guaranteed.

The offer came after sources told Al Jazeera that soldiers were on their way to arrest him in his southern power base of Jalal'abad, where he was holding a rally of about 5,000 supporters on Tuesday.

"In what case would I resign? First of all, they should guarantee that in Kyrgyzstan there are no more people walking around with weapons, and no seizures or redistribution of property," Bakiyev told reporters on Tuesday while sitting at a table outside his house.

"Also, I need to know that my own security and the security of members of my family and those close to me will be assured."

Other reports said the interim government was willing to provide security for Bakiyev, who fled amid riots last week that killed 83 people in the capital Bishkek.

Roza Otunbayeva, the interim leader, told the Associated Press news agency that her government would offer security if Bakiyev stepped down and left the country.

"We will provide security guarantees which he's entitled to under the constitution," she said.

But there was no such offer for his family.

Tense situation

in depth

 

  Profile: Roza Otunbayeva
  Interview: Kurmanbek Bakiyev
 

 

 

Videos:

  Kyrgyz citizens look for land
  Bakiyev calls for protest probe
 

Roots of Kyrgyz uprising persist

 

Interview: Roza Otunbayeva

 

Opposition usurps power in Bishkek

  Kyrgyzstan: Central Asia keystone

Al Jazeera's Robin Forestier-Walker, reporting from near Bakiyev's home in the village of Teyyit, said the president appeared ready to defend himself with his armed bodyguards.

"The president insists if they come to take him, there will be bloodshed. He insists he would not go quietly," he said.

"He's surrounded by his closest bodyguards in body armour, with rifles and machine guns.

"The situation is very tense. Taking the president by force is the last option for this government but they do not want Bakiyev or his closest sons and brothers to walk away from this."

Bakiyev challenged the government to arrest him at a rally with supporters in Jalal'abad on Monday.

The interim administration seemed to have taken up the challenge with reports suggesting that a convoy of military vehicles was on its way to the region and that Bakiyev's immunity from arrest had been removed.

"We can see that the president does not want to step down voluntarily and instead is issuing calls for actions against the people," Azimbek Beknazarov, the interim security minister, said on Tuesday.

"We have opened a criminal case against the former president. If he does not show up today after the rally we will hold an operation to detain him."

Kyrgyz society is strongly clan-based, but there are few signs that Bakiyev will gain enough support in his southern heartland to return to power.

'Brink of civil war'

The unrest has prompted Dmitry Medvedev, the president of neighbouring Russia, to warn that Kyrgyzstan could be ripped apart by the political upheaval and that the country could turn into a "second Afghanistan".

"I believe Kyrgyzstan is on the brink of civil war," the Russian leader said after attending a nuclear security summit in Washington DC.

"The risk of Kyrgyzstan breaking apart - into the south and the north - really exists," he said during a speech at the Brookings Institution, a US think tank.

Meanwhile, the United States is sending a high-ranking diplomat to Kyrgyzstan to assess the situation in the country.

Robert Blake, the assistant secretary of state for south and central Asian affairs, said on Monday he would be heading to the region to meet representatives of the de facto government.

Blake said the US has offered support for Kyrgyz efforts "to stabilise their political and economic situation".

He said he had spoken with Otunbayeva, who agreed he should travel there "as soon as possible".

Otunbayeva leads a transitional government and has promised to produce a new constitution within six months.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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