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Europe

OSCE Fears Fresh Unrest in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan's political situation appeared less chaotic on Monday after the old parliament handed over to the disputed new one, but Europe's top security body fears the move could cause a new escalation of violence.

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Kyrgyz opposition protesters refused the new parliament

Kyrgyzstan's outgoing parliament agreed Monday to cede power to a new assembly in a bid to resolve a crisis left by last week's lightning revolution and the toppling of its Soviet-era regime.

"The decision was taken to defend stability and in the interest of the nation," Ishenbai Kadyrbekov, the speaker of the outgoing chamber told reporters after the lower house made the decision in closed session.

The upper chamber of the outgoing parliament was due to meet midday Monday to decide whether it would follow suit.

The issue of which parliament would preside in Kyrgyzstan -- the outgoing chamber or new deputies elected in a hotly-disputed poll two weeks ago -- has been one of the top unresolved issues in the nation since Thursday, when veteran leader Askar Akayev fled the country after opposition protestors overran the main seat of government.

New uncertainty

Now, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), fears that Monday's bizarre twist will only underscore uncertainty and possibly spark new violence.

"The political situation in this country has improved, but the crisis is not yet over," said OSCE representative Alojz Peterle. He said the OSCE would send constitutional law experts to Kyrgyzstan.

"I only know that we are dealing with different opinions on legality and legitimacy and, of course, these opinions are so different," Peterle said. "It is not our task now to judge which opinion is better or more acceptable. What we can do is to provide assistance in order to clarify the situation, to prepare elements for good decisions."

Kurmanbek Bakijew, neuer Übergangsstaatschef in Kirgisien

Kurmanbek Bakiyev

The speaker of the new parliament, Omurbek Tekebayev, told deputies that parliament's first task would be to confirm as prime minister Kurmanbek Bakiyev (photo), who was named acting president within hours of the March 24 coup that forced Akayev to flee. Tekebayev told journalists that Akayev still remained the legal head of state and described the old parliament's decision to hold new presidential elections on June 26 as illegal.

The new leaders have warned of a civil war erupting and Bakiyev's supporters say a plot to kill him has been uncovered.

Fragile peace

Prior to Monday's announcement, members of both the old and new parliaments had been sitting in the chamber during debates, while outside on the streets of the capital, Bishkek, there has been a fragile peace. After looting last week, street sweepers have cleaned broken glass from the sidewalks, and markets have reopened. Bakiyev has phoned Russian President Vladimir Putin and asked for food, fuel supplies and cheap credits to keep the economy running.

Kirgisistan Askar Akayev

Askar Akayev

The Kremlin has indicated that Akayev (photo) is somewhere inside Russia. A Russian news agency quoted Bakiyev as saying that if Akayev returned to Kyrgyzstan, he would try to ensure his security, although a return at this stage would be dangerous.

Akayev has presided over Kyrgyzstan for 15 years. At the beginning of his rule, he was credited with bringing economic reform and democracy to the central Asian, former Soviet state. But in the last few years, his regime became increasingly autocratic.

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