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Kyrgyzstan president resigns, leaving new leaders in full control

Kyrgyzstan President Bakiyev resigned Thursday and fled to Kazakhstan. The interim government of Roza Otunbayeva must now try to restore order to the highly strategic but unstable country.

By Correspondent / April 16, 2010

Kyrgyzstan's President Kurmanbek Bakiyev speaks to the media in the courtyard of his family home, in the village of Teyit, in the Jalal-Abad region, southern Kyrgyzstan, Wednesday. Bakiyev resigned Thursday and fled to Kazakhstan.

Sergei Grits/AP



Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev resigned and fled the country, leaving political power fully in the hands of a group of political insiders who toppled him in a popular uprising last week .

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 Mr. Bakiyev, who had been trying to rally supporters in his native south for a possible comeback, threw in the towel Thursday and fled, with Russian and US help, to neighboring Kazakhstan after being shot at during a political meeting in his home town of Osh .

A formal agreement with Bakiyev was reportedly struck following concerted international mediation by leaders of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), including Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, US President Barack Obama, and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Under the deal, Bakiyev formally resigned his presidency and goes into self-imposed exile. "In these tragic days for the Kyrgyz people, I am resigning in accordance with the Kyrgyz Constitution, taking into account my responsibility for the future of the Kyrgyz people," Bakiyev said after arriving in the Kazakh city of Taraz Thursday.

"This development is an important step towards the stabilization of the situation, a return to a framework providing for the rule of law, and the prevention of a civil war in Kyrgyzstan," the OSCE said in a statement.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hailed Bakiyev's departure as "an important step toward the peaceful, stable, prosperous, and democratic development" of Kyrgyzstan.

Unstable country in turbulent region

That would seem to leave the new interim government, under former foreign minister Roza Otunbayeva in charge of the mountainous state of 5 million people, which is strategically placed at the heart of central Asia but is also one of the most impoverished and politically unstable in a very turbulent region.

"The political situation in the republic seems to be under control of the provisional government, and both Moscow and Washington seem to be favorable to the intermim government," says Sanobar Shermatova, a central Asia expert with the official RIA-Novosti news agency in Moscow. "But the biggest problems lie ahead. Problem No. 1 is the illegitimate character of power. What I mean is that two revolutions in the past five years have undermined the legal thinking of Kyrgyz population. Even after the first revolution (the 2005 "Tulip Revolution"), people took advantage of the situation to try and to seize property, money, or land. And under those circumstances it was impossible to make them believe that it was criminal."