In a day of fast-paced developments, the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan appeared to be in the control of the political opposition, with President Askar Akayev having resigned and gone into exile. Prime Minister Nikolai Tanayev also quit. Akayev's whereabouts were not clear. Conflicting reports said he was heading to Russia and to Kazakhstan. After previously refusing demands to resign, he fled as antigovernment protesters ignored threats of force by security police and smashed their way into government headquarters in Bishkek, the capital. The protesters also freed former Vice President Felix Kulov, one of the top two opposition leaders, from prison. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court ruled that parliamentary elections dominated by Akayev's allies earlier this month were invalid, and discussions were under way to schedule a new legislative vote as well as one to replace Akayev. Above, the other opposition leader, Kurmanbek Bakiev, updates followers on developments outside the presidential palace.
Saying, "We hope the two sides can ... do something more constructive," China's Foreign Ministry conceded that a week of consultations with North Korea's visiting premier had failed to produce a date for resuming negotiations with the US and other nations over nuclear weapons. "Deep distrust" between the North's government and the US resulted in the lack of a breakthrough on resuming the talks, for which China serves as host, the ministry said. On Wednesday, President Bush urged North Korea to return to the six-nation talks "for the sake of peace and tranquility." But the Pyongyang government has demanded an apology from his administration first for having been labeled "an outpost of tyranny."
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's aides admitted that he had met with the company that employed his son both before and after it won a $60 million contract to supervise the oil-for-food contract with Iraq, The Los Angeles Times reported. Cotecna Inspection SA of Switzerland paid the secretary-general's son, Kojo Annan, a reported $300,000 for his work on the scandal-ridden program - almost double the amount it previously claimed. But the senior Annan's staffers insisted that his meetings with Cotecna were brief and unrelated to either the oil-for-food contract or to his son's payments. The aides again maintained that Kofi Annan expects to be "fully vindicated" in the impending report on the probe of that program.