Kyrgyz troops block demonstrators bound for capital

Kyrgyz troops blocked a road on Bishkek's outskirts on Thursday to prevent around 1,000 demonstrators from attending a rally in the capital.

Kyrgyz troops block demonstrators bound for capital

Kyrgyz troops blocked a road on Bishkek's outskirts on Thursday to prevent around 1,000 demonstrators from attending a rally in the capital in a new sign of tension in the run-up to October elections.

Keneshbek Dushebayev, head of the Kyrgyz National Security Service, said the army was acting on information that some of those arriving by bus from the shores of Lake Issyk-Kul were armed and could try to overthrow the interim government.

Dushebayev said the demonstrators planned to demand the installation of a local politician in a position of power within the interim government, and to demand the resignation of several members of the current leadership.

"If their demands are not met, they are intent on seizing power," he told Reuters.

About 400 to 500 armed soldiers faced a crowd of around 1,000 people waving red flags and wearing traditional Kyrgyz felt hats. The army used trucks to block the road and several helicopters flew overhead.

Members of the crowd whistled and shouted their demands to be admitted to Bishkek to attend the rally, at which various groups were making speeches. They made no explicit demands beyond being allowed through the cordon.

Kyrgyzstan has been in turmoil since April, when a popular revolt unseated President Kurmanbek Bakiyev. Troops loyal to Bakiyev fired into a crowd of protesters in Bishkek on April 7 and 85 people were killed in the disturbances. In June, more than 350 people -- and possibly hundreds more -- were killed in several days of clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in southern Kyrgyzstan.

Dushebayev said the crowd had arrived from Balykchy, a town on the western edge of Lake Issyk-Kul.

"We received information that some of these people are armed with firearms and grenades," he said.

The crowd refused to turn back, but made no attempt to break through the cordon. There appeared to be no inter-ethnic element to the stand-off.

Kyrgyzstan voted in a June 27 referendum to create the first parliamentary democracy in Central Asia, a region otherwise governed by presidential strongmen. Elections to parliament have been scheduled for October.


Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 05 Ağustos 2010, 16:48

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