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News Update
29-03-05, 01:21
March 29, 2005
Kyrgyz in Political Compromise
By CRAIG S. SMITH

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan, March 28 - Politicians and lawmakers on Monday resolved a brewing parliamentary crisis in the wake of the unexpected coup here last week, and the country's new government urged the ousted president, Askar A. Akayev, to resign.

The interim prime minister, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, said he would recognize the new legislators who won seats in the flawed elections that concluded earlier this month and that led to widespread protests that drove Mr. Akayev from power. Some officials said they were negotiating with the ousted president in hopes of securing his resignation, to allow for a smoother transfer of power.

Mr. Akayev sent a statement to the official Akbar press agency here praising Kyrgyz volunteers who helped stop looting after his ouster. He warned that international investment would dry up as a result of "anarchy" in Kyrgyzstan and demanded an end to what he called the persecution of his friends and relatives.

He said that he had left the country to avoid bloodshed and that "even a drop of blood spilled" would not have justified his staying in power. He did not mention resignation.

The political settlement reached on Monday angered many who had taken part in demonstrations to protest election fraud and who felt the candidates chosen that way should not be seated. But the agreement appeared to put the country on more stable footing. Government leaders met with businessmen to reassure them and answer questions.

The new Parliament and the old one have been meeting on different floors of the same building, each claiming to be legitimate. The old legislature's upper house remained defiant on Monday, but its 45-member lower chamber suspended its activity and called on the upper house to do the same.

Mr. Bakiyev told protesters outside the Parliament building that recognizing the new legislature as legitimate had been a "political decision." Parliament's new speaker had threatened to void Mr. Bakiyev's appointment as interim prime minister if he did not go along.

Belarus Protesters Convicted

By The New York Times

MOSCOW, March 28 - A court in Belarus on Monday convicted nearly three dozen people arrested during a violent protest against the government on Friday in the capital, Minsk, and sentenced them to relatively short terms of 3 to 15 days in jail, one of the protest organizers said.

The protest, inspired by the popular uprising in Kyrgyzstan, involved more than 1,000 people before security forces broke it up.

Andrei Y. Klimov, a businessman and former member of Parliament who helped organize the protest, said it was the first step toward eroding the nearly dictatorial grip of President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, who has governed since 1994 and last year won a disputed referendum that let him seek re-election indefinitely.

"Belarussians are not obedient slaves," Mr. Klimov said in a telephone interview, vowing that Mr. Lukashenko would be forced to resign before facing election again in 2006. "They are civilized people who are hoping to live in a free and democratic Europe."