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Last Updated: Monday, 28 March, 2005, 08:04 GMT 09:04 UK
Struggle to end Kyrgyzstan split
A Kyrgyz opposition supporter argues in Bishkek
The continuing dispute has sowed confusion and anger
Europe's top security body says it is making urgent attempts to end a legal dispute in Kyrgyzstan after last week's ousting of President Askar Akayev.

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation's top official is already in the country, and legal experts are due to arrive in the next few days.

The removal of Mr Akayev has left the central Asian country with two rival parliaments that both claim legitimacy.

There are fears that the dispute could further destabilise the country.

Kyrgyzstan's electoral body on Sunday backed the new parliament, elected in the disputed polls that prompted the protests which brought down Mr Akayev.

Now is not the time for discussing different reasons for developments that occurred
Alojz Peterle
OSCE

But earlier in the week, the Supreme Court had annulled the poll results and said the previous parliament had authority.

Acting President Kurmanbek Bakiev supports the court ruling, but the new head of security, Felix Kulov, says the term of the old parliament had expired and that legally, the new parliament is legitimate.

In a sign that the old parliament may beginning to give way, members of its lower house suspended work on Monday.

"In order to stabilise the situation and in the interests of the people, and so that the acting president will not face two rival legislatures, the lower chamber has decided to suspend its activity and allow the newly elected deputies to work and carry out their constitutional duties," said Speaker Ishenbai Kadyrbekov.

However, the upper house is continuing to meet.

'Political dialogue'

The head of the OSCE, Jan Kubis, has met Mr Bakiev and Mr Kulov to try to broker a peaceful resolution

MPs in Kyrgyzstan
Arguments break out in the assembly building in Bishkek

Mr Kubis told a news conference after the meeting on Sunday that he would be holding further consultations over the next few days.

At least two of the three of the organisation's constitutional and legal experts are expected in Kyrgyzstan in the next few days.

European officials say the situation is very sensitive. Kyrgyzstan, next to China and just north of Afghanistan, lies in a strategic and unstable region, on a key drug smuggling route for Afghan heroin.

Members of the new government themselves have warned of potential unrest if the situation is not clarified.

But life in Bishkek is returning to normal following a few nights of looting immediately after ex-president Akayev was driven from office, with people returned to work on Monday for the first time.

Mr Bakiev has announced that presidential elections will take place on 26 June.

Ousted Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev
Askar Akayev ruled the country since 1990

However, OSCE's envoy to Kyrgyzstan Markus Mueller described the date as unrealistic.

Mr Akayev was ousted amid large-scale demonstrations last week.

It remains unclear where the former president is, but many observers say he is probably in Russia.

Russia says it has offered to host Mr Akayev, at his own request.

Mr Akayev has accused the opposition of staging an "anti-constitutional coup".


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Kyrgyzstan's political situation is still uncertain



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