Top members of Kyrgyzstan’s interim government step aside in preparation for elections

By Leila Saralayeva, AP
Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Top Kyrgyz officials resign

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan — Leading members of Kyrgyzstan’s interim government announced their resignations Tuesday as they prepare to run for seats in parliament.

Acting deputy Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev said he would step down to ensure the upcoming vote is held fairly and on an equal footing for all those taking part. Similar announcements were made by other top Cabinet officials.

The provisional leadership that has led the country since former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was unseated in a bloody uprising in April is set to give way to a caretaker government of technocratic appointees.

“Initially, I thought of becoming a member of the technical government, but two weeks ago I took the decision to resign,” Atambayev said in a statement.

Competition for seats in parliament is likely to be intense and several new parties have appeared in recent weeks. The role of the legislature was boosted and the authority of the president diluted by a revamped constitution overwhelmingly approved in a national referendum last month.

Caretaker President Roza Otunbayeva has sought to dispel concerns that members of her government could take advantage of their power by calling for prospective candidates in the Cabinet to resign, saying that is the only way to ensure a level playing field in the parliamentary vote.

Acting Finance Minister Temir Sariyev and the acting Minister for Constitutional Affairs, Omurbek Tekebayev, who played a key role in forging the new constitution and leads the popular and left-leaning Ata-Meken, already have announced they are resigning.

“The first phase of transition in the country has been completed,” Tekebayev said at a news conference Tuesday. “The referendum was held very successful, and has legitimized the authorities.”

Under new rules, Otunbayeva must announce the date for parliamentary elections at least 90 days before the vote, which is widely expected to take place in October.

Kyrgyzstan has endured months of turbulence since Bakiyev was deposed amid widespread anger over falling living standards and rampant corruption.

The official death toll from ethnic violence that tore apart the southern cities Osh and nearby Jalal-Abad now stands at around 900. Most of the unrest involved mobs of ethnic Kyrgyz trashing and setting fire to ethnic Uzbek neighborhoods, and some 400,000 people were displaced.

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