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Last Updated: Friday, 17 June, 2005, 10:00 GMT 11:00 UK
Kyrgyzstan's new leaders
Protesters in the Central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan have followed the Georgian and Ukrainian example in overthrowing their government after complaints that recent elections were rigged.

But in Georgia and Ukraine the opposition was united behind a single, well-known leader - Mikhail Saakashvili in Georgia and Viktor Yushchenko in Ukraine.

It is not so obvious who will replace ousted President Askar Akayev when new presidential elections are held in June.


Kurmanbek Bakiev, 56, the new interim president, is head of the People's Movement of Kyrgyzstan and was one of the leading figures behind the Bishkek protests.

Kurmanbek Bakiev
Kurmanbek Bakiev is popular in north and south

The economist is experienced in government and draws most of his popular support from the south of the country, where he was born.

He served as prime minister until May 2002.

He left under a cloud, however - forced to resign after an opposition demonstration in the southern district of Aksy turned sour and police shot dead five demonstrators.

Some people feel his association with the Aksy incident makes him unsuitable to represent the country, though he is clear favourite to win the upcoming election.


Muratbek Imanaliev, a former Foreign Minister, is head of the Party for Justice and Progress.

He called for opposition parties to come together to form a co-ordinating council in the wake of the government's collapse.

He also called for new elections.

"This is the people's victory, but now we need to create legitimate structures so that there's no power vacuum," he said.

He has been criticised, however, for sitting on the fence politically and refusing to join with other opposition groups in the Union for Fair Elections.


Omurbek Tekebayev was a leading opponent of Askar Akeyev, standing against him in 2000 presidential elections - though he won just 14% of the vote.

Following the 2005 disputed parliamentary elections, Mr Tekebayev was elected speaker of the new body. His position was greatly strengthened when the outgoing legislature ceded authority.


Felix Kulov
Felix Kulov has strong support in the capital, Bishkek

Former Vice-President, Security Minister and Bishkek mayor Felix Kulov was released from prison by protesters on the day of the government's fall, 24 March.

He was re-appointed as security minister, but resigned after less than a week.

Before his imprisonment, Mr Kulov, 56, was genuinely popular in the capital. He was an Akayev ally, helping the president to build an independent state.

He oversaw the launch of the Kyrgyz currency, the som, in 1993, but resigned later that year in a row over missing gold reserves.

He became an opposition figure, leading the Ar-Namys (Dignity) party. He claimed that his defeat in parliamentary elections in 2000 was engineered by the government.

He was later jailed on corruption charges that the US said appeared "politically motivated".

Following his release, he said he would be a candidate for president in the forthcoming elections.

But in May he agreed to run on the same ticket as Mr Bakiev, on the understanding that Mr Kulov would become prime minister if Mr Bakiev wins.


Kyrgyzstan's leading female politician is acting Foreign Minister, Roza Otunbayeva, 54, leader of the Ata-jurt or Fatherland movement.

Roza Otunbayeva - archive
Roza Otunbayeva is better known in the north

Like Mr Bakiev, she is a former ally of President Akayev who, after being dismissed by him, became very critical of the way he was allegedly taking power into his own and his family's hands.

Her main power base is in the north.

As Kyrgyzstan's former ambassador to Britain and to the United Nations, she is well-liked and respected abroad, but is probably not well enough known inside Kyrgyzstan to seek higher office.

She is also a woman in what is a traditionally patriarchal society.

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