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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 March 2007, 10:20 GMT 11:20 UK
Kyrgyzstan gets opposition PM
By Natalia Antelava
BBC News, Almaty

President Kurmanbek Bakiyev (file photo)
President Bakiev faces the threat of more street protests
The Prime Minister of the Central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan, Azim Isabekov, has resigned amid growing political turmoil.

A moderate opposition leader, Almaz Atambayev, has been named in his place.

The appointment, initiated by President Kurmanbek Bakiev, could be an attempt to appease his opponents, who have called for him to step down

It is the first time an opposition politician has been made a prime minister in Central Asia.

But is the appointment a sign of a healthy democracy, or of a weak government that is struggling to survive?

The Kyrgyz government says its doing its best to preserve stability, and that this appointment shows that President Bakiev is willing to compromise.

The move could indeed lower the political temperature, but it is not likely to satisfy Mr Bakiev's more radical opponents.

Protest threat

They are led by Felix Kulov, the president's former ally, who was until two months ago himself the prime minister.

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In early April, Mr Kulov and his supporters plan to call for the president's resignation in street protests that they say will be similar to those that brought Mr Bakiev to power in 2005, when he ousted his predecessor Askar Akaev.

Since then, his critics say, Mr Bakiev has failed to deliver on promises to fight corruption and lift the country out of poverty.

Kyrgyzstan's political troubles are also of concern beyond its borders.

America's only remaining military base in Central Asia lies just outside the capital Bishkek. It is a crucial operation that supplies NATO troops in Afghanistan.


SEE ALSO
Kyrgyzstan curbs president power
08 Nov 06 |  Asia-Pacific
People power forces changes in Bishkek
09 Nov 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Voices from Bishkek protest rally
02 Nov 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Profile: Kurmanbek Bakiyev
11 Jul 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Kyrgyz revolution gains remain unequal
21 Mar 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Kyrgyzstan
29 Oct 06 |  Country profiles

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