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Akayev Says He'll Resign on Monday

Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev, who fled his country last month after demonstrators stormed his offices, said in Moscow he would resign Monday.

Akayev met with a delegation representing Kyrgyzstan's interim leadership Sunday and told reporters that a protocol for his resignation had been completed and that he would formally leave office Monday.

He made the announcement after about three hours of talks at the Kyrgyz embassy with the delegation headed by Omurbek Tekebayev, the speaker of the Kyrgyz parliament who is one of Akayev's most eminent longtime opponents.

Both Tekebayev and Akayev emphasized that the agreement would be a significant step toward restoring stability in Kyrgyzstan, which has been on edge since the March 24 storming of the presidential building in the capital, Bishkek.

"We have approved a very good and historic document," Akayev said. It will "pave the way for finding a way of out the political crisis that Kyrgyzstan has found itself in."

Tekebayev in turn said the agreement "will ensure peace and legitimacy."

Neither took questions from reporters, and it was not immediately clear why Akayev would wait a day after signing the protocol to actually step down.

The storming of the presidential offices was the culmination of weeks of protests sparked by parliamentary elections that Akayev's opponents alleged were manipulated to give him a compliant legislature. The protesters apparently had not initially intended to storm the building but did so after a clash with Akayev supporters.

The unexpected turn of events left Kyrgyzstan in a state of political chaos, with two rival parliaments competing for legitimacy. The tensions were aggravated by two nights of looting and gunfire in the capital, in which at least three people were killed.

The political crisis began to ebb last week after one of the parliaments ceded authority. The remaining one was chosen in the elections that triggered the protests -- and although it had been seen as dominated by Akayev supporters, it nonetheless elected his foe Tekebayev as speaker.

Akayev refused to recognize the man approved by both parliaments as interim president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, saying he recognized only Tekebayev as a legitimate political leader.

(The Moscow Times 04.iv.05)

 
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