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Page last updated at 13:44 GMT, Tuesday, 20 April 2010 14:44 UK

Ousted Kyrgyz leader Kurmanbek Bakiyev 'in Belarus'

Kurmanbek Bakiyev in Jalalabad (14 April 2010)
Mr Bakiyev fled Kyrgyzstan after a rally last week

The ousted leader of Kyrgyzstan, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, is in Belarus, the country's president has said.

Alexander Lukashenko's announcement ends uncertainty over the whereabouts of Mr Bakiyev, who was overthrown in a violent uprising earlier this month.

He had flown to neighbouring Kazakhstan on 15 April but on Monday officials in Astana said he had left.

Kyrgyzstan's interim leaders have said he should stand trial over the unrest, in which more than 80 people died.

Mr Lukashenko had previously said Mr Bakiyev would be welcome in Minsk.

On Tuesday, he told the Belarussian parliament Mr Bakiyev had been in the country with four members of his family as guests since the previous evening.

"He is with us under the defence of our state and president," said Mr Lukashenko. "He is the president of a state with which we are friendly."

Mr Bakiyev flew out of Kyrgyzstan after failing to secure support in his home region in the south of the country.

The new interim government, led by former foreign minister Roza Otunbayeva, has said he is responsible for the deaths during the 7 April uprising and will be arrested if he returns.

Extradition

On Monday, Mr Lukashenko had said Mr Bakiyev would be welcomed as "the dearest guest, as my colleague".

"If the president of Kyrgyzstan and his family need support and assistance at this difficult time, it will be shown in Belarus," state media quoted him as saying.

A spokesman for the interim Kyrgyz government, Omurbek Tekebayev, said the two countries had "always been friends and we shall remain friends".

But he said the administration would request Mr Bakiyev's extradition from Belarus.

He said that on Mr Bakiyev's orders, "his people and relatives have been trying to destabilise the situation and to trigger inter-ethnic and inter-religious clashes, and all that is a reason enough for us to demand his extradition".

The new administration is working to restore calm amidst reports of sporadic unrest in the country.

Ms Otunbayeva has pledged to hold elections in late September or early October.



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