|Otunbayeva is a a previous ally of Bakiyev, who has fled the capital [Reuters]|
Roza Otunbayeva, a former foreign minister, is claiming to be Kyrgyzstan’s interim leader after clashes between government troops and protesters left at least 75 people dead and forced Kurmanbek Bakiyev, the president, to flee the capital.
“The interim government will remain in place for half a year, during which we will draft the constitution and create conditions for free and fair elections,” Otunbayeva said on Thursday.
Otunbayeva is widely viewed as having presidential ambitions.
She is an articulate politician who helped steer the ex-Soviet republic’s 2005 Tulip Revolution which ousted Askar Akayev, the previous president, and brought Bakiyev to power.
The 59-year-old former career diplomat served as foreign minister in the 1990s under Akayev but broke with him in 2004 to join the opposition movement.
Her Ata-Jurt party was one of the main opposition groups behind the Tulip Revolution.
Otunbayeva briefly went on to serve as acting foreign minister under Bakiyev but failed to gain approval from parliament deputies for the post.
She later became highly critical of Bakiyev, saying that his government continued the corruption and nepotism of the previous president.
The Moscow-educated Otunbayeva is believed to have close ties to the Kremlin, which she thanked for its support in her first press conference as interim leader.
As a woman, Otunbayeva is an unusual figure in Central Asia, where there are few female politicians in senior posts.
In 2007, she became a deputy for the opposition Social Democratic party.
She is a former ambassador to both the United States and Britain.