Otunbayeva sworn in as Kyrgyzstan interim president - PHOTO

Otunbayeva was sworn in as Kyrgyzstan's interim president after guiding it through three months of revolt, ethnic violence and a referendum.

Otunbayeva sworn in as Kyrgyzstan interim president - PHOTO

 

Roza Otunbayeva was sworn in as Kyrgyzstan's interim president on Saturday after guiding it through three months of revolt, ethnic violence and a referendum intended to build Central Asia's first parliamentary democracy.

Otunbayeva, 59, a former ambassador to the United Kingdom who came to power on the wave of bloody street riots in April which ousted president Kurmanbek Bakiyev, took the oath of office at a Soviet-era concert hall in the capital Bishkek, according to Reuters.

Otunbayeva was sworn in to act as president until the end of 2011 under the terms of a new constitution that voters backed in a referendum last week, creating a parliamentary system in a region otherwise dominated by authoritarian presidents.

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The referendum was held despite violence between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in the south of the country that saw villages burned, hundreds of people killed and hundreds of thousands driven from their homes.

"We are living though one of the most dramatic periods in our history," said Otunbayeva at the ceremony held in a concert hall in Bishkek, the Kyrgyz capital.

She pledged to support a liberal economy and guarantee private property rights.

 

First woman 

The first woman to lead a Central Asian state, Otunbayeva, has faced stern challenges since taking power in the wake of a revolt that toppled President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who himself came to power in an uprising that ousted Askar Akayev in 2005.

The official death toll from the violence that tore apart Osh and nearby Jalal-Abad currently stands at around 300, although Otunbayeva has said as many as 2,000 people may have died in the rioting. Most of the unrest involved mobs of ethnic Kyrgyz trashing and setting fire to ethnic Uzbek neighborhoods.

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"I promise that before the onset of cold weather, the Kyrgyz government will provide housing for all who lost the roofs over their head," Otunbayeva said.

The United Nations estimated that 400,000 people fled. About a quarter crossed into Uzbekistan, which shares a border with Kyrgyzstan. Most of the refugees have since returned.

Some Kyrgyz citizens said they appreciate her success so far at limiting the spread of violence.

"Otunbayeva is taking on a heavy load to bear. Let her rule," said Abbas, 48, a taxi driver. "She is a mother, she is taking on a big responsibility for people. In a hard time she has managed to prevent war from raging on."

Yet others worry that power brokers who have dominated the country in the past will remain in control behind the scenes.

Liliya, an accountant said: "I'm not sure that it will be better. It's the same people that were with Akayev and Bakiyev."

Referendum

Under the new system adopted in the referendum, parliamentary elections are planned for October 10 of this year. The power of the presidency will be reduced, giving parliament and the cabinet more authority.

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"In Kyrgyzstan, democracy is a system that has deep roots in the souls of the people," Otunbayeva told an audience of top government officials, diplomats and politicians.

"As president, I will spare no effort in creating a new political culture based on strict adherence to the rule of law," Otunbayeva said in a speech interrupted periodically by bouts of rhythmic clapping from the audience.

Until now, the five states of former Soviet Central Asia have all been run by presidents with vast powers, many of whom are criticised by human rights watchdogs for stifling dissent.

Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 03 Temmuz 2010, 17:20
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