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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 March, 2005, 15:19 GMT 16:19 UK
OSCE warns against Kyrgyz split
Interim leader Kurmanbek Bakiev
Kurmanbek Bakiev has made his political ambitions clear
The chairman of the European security organisation, the OSCE, has described the competition between two of Kyrgyzstan's new leaders as worrying.

Dimitrij Rupel is in the Central Asian nation to encourage a speedy transition to stable government following the overthrow of the president last week.

He also called on the deposed president, Askar Akayev, to resign.

Mr Rupel is one of several foreign envoys visiting the interim leaders to discuss the nation's future.

He said there were rivalries within the new leadership after such a dramatic transfer of power.

Both the acting president, Kurmanbek Bakiev, and another prominent figure in the former opposition, Felix Kulov, are expected to run for president in the elections planned for June.

Mr Rupel said the competition between the two was worrying but he said he hoped it could be channelled into a political competition in the planned election.

There has also been signs of differences in the leadership regarding the fate of Mr Akayev.

Mr Bakiev on Wednesday night warned the ousted president against returning to Kyrgyzstan, saying his presence could inflame the situation and cause more unrest.

But Parliamentary Speaker Omurbek Tekebayev said on Thursday that it was "desirable that he come back home".

Mr Tekebayev has said that fresh presidential elections cannot be held until Mr Akayev resigns.

Mr Rupel agreed with this conclusion. "There is a general feeling in Kyrgyzstan and also within the OSCE that one phase of a political process is now behind us," he told reporters.

"That phase is symbolised by the presidency of Akayev. As this is so, it would be best if this phase is formally concluded as soon as possible."

Other foreign envoys currently visiting Kyrgyzstan include representatives from Ukraine and Georgia, where similar political uprisings have occurred recently.

'Ready to step down'

Mr Akayev is currently in Russia, but he has said he would be willing to resign if given "relevant guarantees".

He insisted on Wednesday that he was the "sole legitimate president", but said he would be prepared to return to the country and resign if his safety could be guaranteed.

He also had angry words regarding the events of 24 March, when he was swept from power by thousands of anti-government demonstrators who stormed the presidential palace.

"The opposition said it would hold a peaceful rally on the main square... but in fact they gathered 10,000 fighters, criminals and drug addicts in an uncontrollable mass which began to storm the building," he told the BBC.

He added that he was worried about the possibility of civil war because of divisions between members of the opposition.

"I fear civil war because it could spark a fire across the whole of Central Asia," he said.

Ashkar Akayev talks to the BBC


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