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Last Updated: Saturday, 26 March, 2005, 13:49 GMT
Kyrgyzstan moves to restore order
A man walks out of a looted shop in Bishkek
Volunteer police hope to prevent another night of looting in Bishkek
Kyrgyzstan's new leaders have taken steps to restore order after widespread looting in the capital, Bishkek.

Reports say Bishkek is tense but calmer with only sporadic shooting, as police fired in the air to deter looters.

Former opposition member Kurmanbek Bakiev, named as acting president, appointed an interim cabinet and said fresh elections would be held in June.

Deposed leader Askar Akayev accused the opposition of staging an "anti-constitutional coup".

The former opposition has convened the Kyrgyz parliament to discuss the next step.

They say a date of 26 June has been set for new presidential elections to be held.

Mr Bakiev said he would stand as a candidate in the poll.

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

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

On Friday, in his first reported remarks since he was ousted, Mr Akayev - who says he has left the central Asian country - said he remained Kyrgyzstan's president.

He denied he had resigned and said his absence was "temporary" and intended to prevent bloodshed.

But in a sign of continuing instability, Mr Bakiev switched the venue of a news conference on Saturday because officials said they had information of a possible plot to kill him, reports say.

Returning calm

By the early hours of Saturday, calm had been restored in the capital, the BBC's Sarah Rainsford says from Bishkek.

KURMANBEK BAKIEV
Kurmanbek Bakiev
Trained as economist
Prime minister until May 2002
Resigned over deaths of protesters in police shooting

Weddings are taking place in the central square and dog walkers are out and about, but shops and cafes remain closed.

The night had been tense in Bishkek, following the deaths of at least three people on Thursday.

Some 2,000 police and volunteer militiamen attempted to impose order, firing warning shots into the air to scatter gangs of looting youths.

Other volunteers patrolled the main roads into the capital to keep out unwanted trouble.

The interim authorities say there were nearly 140 arrests overnight, but looting was on a smaller scale than before.

The acting security minister Felix Kulov said police and volunteer militiamen were now working side by side to restore control of the streets and that the situation was now stable.

"By 2300 [1800 GMT], all unrest in the form of hooliganism or mass disturbances practically stopped in the city of Bishkek."

The opposition knows it is vital to assert their authority as quickly as possible, our correspondent says.

Russian, US help

The US state department said the US and Russia would work together to promote a "sense of order" in Kyrgyzstan.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had spoken on the telephone and "saw eye-to-eye on the situation", said state department spokesman Adam Ereli.

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.

The US ambassador in Bishkek, Stephen Young, has urged the Kyrgyz interim government to work with the OSCE, Mr Ereli added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he is willing to co-operate with the new leadership in Bishkek, while Mr Bakiev pledged to continue friendly relations with Russia.

But Mr Putin criticised the "illegal" overthrow and offered asylum to Mr Akayev, whose whereabouts remain unknown after crowds of protesters stormed parliament on Thursday.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
How Bishkek is recovering from widespread looting



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