Vol. 5 Num 295 Sat. March 26, 2005  
Front Page

Opposition names new Kyrgyz acting president

Kyrgyzstan's opposition, after seizing power in what the ousted leadership called a coup, on Friday named a new acting president and appealed for calm in the capital after a night of violence, burning and looting.

President Askar Akayev fled the White House on Thursday -- the seat of government in the mountainous state -- before it was engulfed by thousands of people demonstrating against a disputed parliamentary poll and years of poverty and corruption.

"God forbid anybody would have to have such a revolution," Felix Kulov, freed from jail by supporters on Thursday and appointed acting interior minister, told state television. "It was a rampage of looting, just like in Iraq."

The Kyrgyz ambassador to the United States called it a coup.

"This ... is an anti-constitutional coup," Baktybek Adrisaev told CNN.

Impoverished Kyrgyzstan -- where the average person gets by on a dollar a day -- became the third ex-Soviet state in two years, after Georgia and Ukraine, where popular revolt after disputed elections has ousted the entrenched leadership.

But it is the only one where the protests turned violent.

Opposition leader Kurmanbek Bakiev, who played a central role in Thursday's mass protests in the capital Bishkek where crowds took over the main government building, said he had been named acting president.

"Parliament today appointed me prime minister and gave me the functions of president," he told supporters in Bishkek.

Parliament had initially appointed another opposition leader Ishenbai Kadyrbekov as acting president.

Analysts say there is little love lost between the key opposition leaders with Kulov, freed from jail by protesters on Thursday, seen as more popular than Bakiev.

No foreign government has yet recognised the new leadership.