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Last Updated: Monday, 28 March, 2005, 12:50 GMT 13:50 UK
Kyrgyz political stand-off eases
Kurmanbek Bakiev addresses the new parliament
The new prime minister wants presidential polls in June
Kyrgyzstan's new parliament has confirmed interim leader Kurmanbek Bakiev as prime minister amid signs the country's power struggle is easing.

In the four days since protests toppled President Askar Akayev, two rival parliaments - the outgoing assembly and the new - have vied for legitimacy.

The new assembly, elected after disputed voting, had already named Mr Bakiev as interim prime minister, but Monday's vote boosts his authority.

The outgoing body has suspended work.

Announcing the decision, it said its principal concern was stability. However, the old parliament's upper house has still to agree to the suspension and so far has not commented.

In response to his confirmation as prime minister, Mr Bakiev declared that the incoming parliament was the legitimate one.

He also said Askar Akayev would enjoy all appropriate legal and constitutional guarantees if he returned to Kyrgyzstan. Controversy over the polls which saw the new house elected fuelled last week's popular uprising.

In the immediate aftermath of the protests, the Supreme Court annulled the poll results and said the previous parliament had authority.

But on Sunday, Kyrgyzstan's electoral body backed the new assembly.

Parliaments and polls

Europe's top security body has been meeting Kyrgyz leaders to help resolve the stalemate, amid warnings of potential unrest if matters are not clarified.

The secretary general of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe has already met Mr Bakiev and the new head of security, Felix Kulov, who also believes the new parliament is legitimate.

New presidential elections can only be called after talks with Akayev
Omurbek Tekebayev
New parliament speaker

The OSCE is also uncomfortable about a timetable put forward by the old assembly to hold elections to find a successor to Mr Akayev in three months time.

"We can only have elections when we have a certain level of stability," said Markus Mueller, the OSCE ambassador.

For his part, the speaker of the new parliament said that such a vote could only be held after talks had been held with Mr Akayev, because he had not formally resigned. "Otherwise it will be another anti-constitutional move," Omurbek Tekebayev said.

Some reports suggest these talks are already taking place in neighbouring Kazakhstan.

Calm after the storm

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.

Vendors sell vegetables at a city market in Bishkek
Life is returning to normal in the capital

There were a few nights of looting in the capital, Bishkek, immediately after ex-President Akayev was driven from office.

However, life there is now returning to normal, with people returning to work on Monday for the first time.

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.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday he was ready to provide Kyrgyzstan with emergency aid.

But he refused to comment on what he called the stormy situation there.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
How Bakiev is seeking to unite the rival factions



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