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Last Updated: Friday, 25 March, 2005, 16:53 GMT
Kyrgyzstan leader condemns 'coup'
Opposition protesters in Bishkek
Government property was wrecked during Thursday's protest
Kyrgyzstan's deposed leader Askar Akayev has broken his silence, accusing the opposition of staging an "anti-constitutional coup".

Mr Akayev, who is believed to have fled the central Asian country, denied he had resigned and said in a statement that his absence was "temporary".

In Kyrgyzstan, acting president Kurmanbek Bakiev said fresh elections would be held in June.

The pledge came a day after protesters stormed parliament to oust Mr Akayev.

The head of the European security organisation, the OSCE, is travelling to the capital, Bishkek, for talks with political leaders on resolving the crisis there.

'Malicious lies'

In his first reported remarks since he was ousted, Mr Akayev said he remained the country's president.

People have lost the patience to live in poverty with no hope for any change
Mirgul, Almaty, Kazakhstan

"Rumours of my resignation are deliberate, malicious lies," he was quoted as saying, adding that his "current stay abroad is temporary".

Mr Akayev, who had been in power since 1991, said he had ordered his security forces not to use force against demonstrators as they advanced on the presidential palace.

In a statement sent to the Kyrgyz news agency Kabar, he denounced the opposition leaders as "a bunch of irresponsible political adventurers and plotters".

Earlier, Mr Bakiev told a crowd in Bishkek that parliament had picked him as president and prime minister.

The acting president told parliament "elections must take place within three months" under the existing constitution.

However, he did not set a date for the vote.

He named a popular opposition leader, Felix Kulov, as the person responsible for restoring order and security in the country, following a night of unrest.

Shots fired

Opposition leaders have appealed for police to return to work following the chaos and looting on Thursday night, in which three people are reported to have been killed.

KURMANBEK BAKIEV
Kurmanbek Bakiev
Trained as economist
Prime minister until May 2002
Resigned over deaths of protesters in police shooting
The BBC's Steve Rosenberg in Bishkek says for most of Friday, the capital was surprisingly peaceful, but by the evening the atmosphere had changed.

He says police volunteers loyal to the new government tried to disperse crowds of teenagers who were armed with sticks - an attempt to prevent more looting but a move against those who consider themselves heroes of the revolution.

The police fired shots in the air and called on the crowd to go home.

There are unconfirmed reports that a curfew has been imposed in the capital, from 1800 to 0600, to restore order.

Moscow asylum offer

Russian President Vladimir Putin has criticised the "illegal" overthrow and offered asylum to Mr Akayev, whose whereabouts remain a mystery.

Unconfirmed reports say Mr Akayev fled to neighbouring Kazakhstan.

However, Mr Putin said he was willing to co-operate with the new leadership in Bishkek, while Mr Bakiev pledged to continue friendly relations with Russia.

The sudden overthrow of Mr Akayev, a Russian ally, appears have caught the Kremlin off-guard, says BBC Moscow correspondent Damian Grammaticas.

Mr Akayev's administration was swept from power amid protests sparked by elections last month, which were widely seen as fraudulent.

Moscow controlled Kyrgyzstan in the former Soviet Union and still maintains a military base in the area, as does the United States.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Violent scenes from the streets of Kyrgyzstan



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