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President Otunbayeva

July 3, 2010

Kyrgyzstan's provisional leader Roza Otunbayeva has been sworn in as president, ushering in what the Central Asian nation's government hopes will be a new era of stability and democratic freedoms.

Rosa Otunbayeva
Otunbayeva is looking to usher in a new era in KyrgyzstanImage: AP

Roza Otunbayeva was sworn in as Kyrgyzstan's president on Saturday, making her the first female leader in the history of the ex-Soviet Central Asian nation.

In front of more than 1,000 cheering onlookers at a packed concert hall in the capital Bishkek, Otunbayeva somberly took her oath and promised a new political era for crisis-ridden Kyrgyzstan.

Kyrgyz riot police
Ethnic violence has died down since erupting in AprilImage: picture alliance / dpa

"As president, I will spare no effort to create a new political culture for the country based on a strict adherence to the rule of law," she told the assembled crowd.

"I must be principled and consistently make demands on all branches of government to ensure it. The new policy can not be built on fantasies and illusions. It must be real and effective."

Inauguration comes at delicate moment

Otunbayeva takes over the government as Kyrgyzstan has been wracked by violence and political instability. Thousands have died in ethnic violence between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks since then-president Kurmanbek Bakiyev was removed from power in a bloody coup in April.

At least 75,000 people fled to neighboring Uzbekistan, leading international aid agencies to warn of an impending humanitarian crisis in dealing with the thousands of families left homeless.

Kyrgyzs unload humanitarian aid at a refugee camp
Dozens of thousands remain homeless in the southImage: AP

The inauguration comes just days after the country overwhelmingly approved a new constitution that will make Kyrgyzstan the region's first parliamentary democracy, a move the government hopes will bring a measure of stability.

The new constitution slashes the powers of the president and sets the stage for parliamentary elections that authorities have scheduled for early October to bring in a permanent government.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, meanwhile, has questioned the feasibility of Kyrgyzstan's aspirations for a parliamentary democracy, warning that it could lead to further instability in the country and the region.

He said last week on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Toronto that a lack of autocratic rule in Kyrgyzstan could result in a "relapse into factionalism," giving rise to a "breeding ground for Islamist extremism."

Author: Gabriel Borrud (AP/dpa)
Editor: Andreas Illmer