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Page last updated at 12:40 GMT, Friday, 16 April 2010 13:40 UK

Is the unrest over in Kyrgyzstan?

By Rayhan Demytrie,
BBC News, Jalalabad

Kurmanbek Bakiyev surrounded by body guards in in Osh (15 April 2010)
Mr Bakiyev did not secure the support he was hoping for in the south

On a rainy evening in Kyrgyzstan's southern city of Jalalabad, the roaring sound of plane engines filled the air.

Many looked up at the sky with curiosity - in this small town of 150,000 there are not that many flights. Few realised the plane was carrying ousted leader Kurmanbek Bakiyev out of the country.

In his home village of Teyit, he was leaving behind those who in the previous seven days had stood shoulder-to-shoulder with their president.

They were the women who stood in Jalalabad's main square only a day before chanting "Bakiyev! Bakiyev!", and the young police scouts suddenly given the important task of controlling road blocks to Mr Bakiyev's home.

And they were the president's large family and some of the officials from his administration, who stood by him until the very last moment.

But Mr Bakiyev had found none of the big crowds of people he most hoped for.

"He believed the city of Osh would stand by his side, because the president is a southerner," said Osh resident Muhhamad Ali.

"A rally in Osh was his last hope, but there were not that many people to support him."

Undecided

Mr Bakiyev had gone to Osh - the regional centre of southern Kyrgyzstan and the second biggest city in the country - to address several hundred of his supporters gathered in the centre of the town.

Kurmanbek Bakiyev's bodyguards in Osh (15 April 2010)
The rally was disrupted by gunfire within minutes

But he had only managed to say "Hello dear compatriots" before a group of young men, supporters of the country's new opposition government, attempted to attack him.

Gun shots were fired into the air by the president's security guards.

Nearby, a much bigger crowd of several thousand people had come to express their support for the new interim government.

Following the bloody events in the north, including the capital, Bishkek - where security forces opened fire against thousands of demonstrators, killing 85 people - many in the south were left undecided about who to support.

People were also unhappy about rising electricity prices, corruption and endless nepotism, the triggers for the protests in the north. In southern Kyrgyzstan the president's numerous brothers were the de facto rulers.

"When people went to address their problems to a regional governor, he used to say openly that it was not him, but the president's brother, Ahmat, who they should be talking to," one Jalalabad resident told the BBC.

The majority in southern Kyrgyzstan did not rush to back the new interim government, out of fear, locals say, that Bakiyev could return.

But a week into the crisis, many started to believe that there was no way back for the ousted leader.

Family arrests

Mr Bakiyev fled to neighbouring Kazakhstan. A few hours prior to his departure he told his supporters the Kazakh president had invited him for talks.

A protester draped in a Kyrgyz national flag walks in front of Kyrgyz government HQ

The Kazakh foreign ministry issued a statement saying the president's departure was a result of negotiations between the president of Kazakhstan, the US and Russia, and mediation by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and a number of other international players.

It was done, the statement said, to prevent civil war in the country and to let the interim government address the most pressing socio-economic issues in the country.

It is still unclear how the new government will treat an army of people who held high-level jobs in Mr Bakiyev's administration. But there is already a list of people "wanted" by the interim government.

On top of that list is the ousted president's brother Zhanybek Bakiyev, who was the head of the presidential guards and is believed to be have given the order to shoot at protesters on 7 April.

Following Mr Bakiyev's departure, his defence minister Baktibek Kaliyev was arrested by the new authorities.

A criminal case has also been launched against his son Maksim, who was the head of an influential government agency in charge of all foreign grants and credits.

Reports are emerging of more arrests of those who were affiliated with the Bakiyev family.

New challenges

The new self-declared government of Kyrgyzstan, headed by Roza Otunbayeva, has many challenges ahead.

The country's economy is in tatters. The interim government needs to carry out major reform within government institutions.

Workers clean up a looted shop in Bishkek on 8 April 2010

The authorities have also pledged to re-write the constitution and hold elections within the next six months.

Observers say a power struggle among the leaders of the government is inevitable, which could slow down reform.

And many are watching what will happen next. The events of 7 April send shockwaves across the Central Asian region.

It was a worrying event for neighbouring countries ruled by authoritarian leaders, who fear that the same could happen in their own states.

Five years ago, Mr Bakiyev came to power on the back of the Tulip Revolution - mass protests against the country's previous leader, Askar Akayev.

He promised to fight corruption and nepotism and lead the country towards democratisation. It seemed Kyrgyzstan was heading towards brighter future.

But those promises were not fulfilled. The Tulip Revolution was a disappointment for those who fought for change and those who believed it would send a good signal to neighbouring states.

All eyes are now on the new government, watching to see whether the former opposition leaders can deliver the democratic values they have been fighting for.



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