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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 April 2007, 15:02 GMT 16:02 UK
Thousands join Bishkek protests
By Natalia Antelava
BBC News, Bishkek

Opposition supporter in Bishkek
Thousands have flocked to the main square in Bishkek
Up to 10,000 people have joined opposition protests in the main square of Bishkek, capital of the ex-Soviet Central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan.

Several thousand of them plan to stay overnight in the tent city they have built in the city, which saw an uprising in March 2005.

The opposition say their protest will grow until President Kurmanbek Bakiyev resigns or calls a new election.

The government has called for dialogue, but the opposition will not compromise.

Thousands of opposition supporters gathered in Bishkek's main square calling for the president's resignation.

Corruption and poverty

At one point, Prime Minister Almaz Atambayev came up to the stage. He called for a dialogue with the government, but the crowd jeered him away.

Between the political speeches and calls for the president's resignation, pop stars came to entertain.

The protestors, many of whom plan to stay overnight, say they are tired of the corruption and poverty that President Bakiyev had promised, but failed, to end.

Protesters wearing masks at demonstration
There are fears the protests could lead to confrontation

Behind these protests is Felix Kulov the former prime minister and, until recently, President Bakiyev's close ally.

Together, they led the street protests in 2005 that ousted the previous leader, Askar Akayev.

Mr Kulov says he is determined to push for the president's resignation.

Yet, Mr Bakiyev is not without his supporters and many residents of the capital fear that their battle for power may lead to confrontation.

The prospect of instability in the central Asian state is a worry to Russia and the US, both of which have air bases in the country.




SEE ALSO
Kyrgyzstan finally agrees new PM
29 Jan 07 |  Asia-Pacific
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
Country profile: Kyrgyzstan
29 Oct 06 |  Country profiles

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