Officials take weapons from relatives of Kyrgyzstan’s ousted presidentBy Alexander Merkushev, AP
Friday, April 16, 2010
Officials take weapons from ousted leader’s family
TEYIT, Kyrgyzstan — Relatives of Kyrgyzstan’s ousted president were submitting weapons to officials Friday in their home village, a day after the president himself fled the country.
While the moves appeared to reduce the likelihood of resistance by Kurmanbek Bakiyev backers, Kyrgyzstan’s interim authorities were still searching for one of his brothers after issuing a warrant for his arrest, and it was unclear if Zhanybek Bakiyev would submit peacefully.
Zhanybek Bakiyev, former head of the presidential guard service, is accused of ordering that shots be fired into a crowd of protesters April 7 in the capital, Bishkek. The shooting enraged protesters, who stormed government buildings, driving the president to take refuge in the family compound in the southern village of Teyit.
At least 83 people died in the Bishkek violence.
For more than a week, the president tried to marshal support to resist the opposition figures who claimed power in Bishkek after his departure. But after fleeing a support rally Thursday when gunfire broke out, he flew to neighboring Kazakhstan under a plan negotiated by the U.S., Russian and Kazakh presidents, the United Nations, the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
It was unclear how long he would remain in Kazakhstan.
Interim leader Roza Otunbayeva said Friday the country would push for an international investigation of the violence and that “Bakiyev won’t evade justice.”
“If Kurmanbek Bakiyev has no plans to hide in the Tora Bora mountains of Afghanistan, the international community will find him and make him answer on behalf of the Kyrgyz people,” said Otunbayeva’s chief of staff, Edil Baisalov.
Police and the regional prosecutor came to the Bakiyev family compound Friday morning, and Bakiyev’s brother Akhmat, who is not sought for arrest, turned over several hunting and assault rifles.
Otunbayeva on Thursday showed The Associated Press what she said was a formal letter of resignation handwritten by the president and received by fax.
“The conflict is over, the people in all parts of the country are united in their condemnation of the bloody regime,” Otunbayeva said.
Otunbayeva said Bakiyev’s departure was “the only way to avoid the escalation of tensions and setting of one part of the nation against another.”
Another member of the interim government in Bishkek, Tobchubek Turgunaliyev, said Bakiyev was accompanied on the flight to Kazakhstan only by his wife and two small children. Turgunaliyev told the AP that Bakiyev’s former defense minister has been arrested.
Bakiyev’s departure raised hopes for a quick settlement of the crisis in the former Soviet republic, which hosts a U.S. air base at the capital’s airport. The Manas base has resumed full operations, the U.S. Embassy said Thursday.
“Refueling operations continue as usual, and the transit of troops has resumed,” the embassy said in a statement.
The troop transports to and from Afghanistan had been suspended since last week, other than a brief resumption Friday to fly a few hundred troops from the base back to the U.S.
Russia, which also has an air base in Kyrgyzstan, has supported the U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan but has shown growing impatience with the U.S. military presence in the Central Asian region, which it considers its backyard.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in a statement issued by the Kremlin on Thursday that the Bakiyev regime collapsed because of corruption, its reliance on clan ties and inability to solve social problems. He said Russia would provide humanitarian aid to Kyrgyzstan.
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