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Page last updated at 11:42 GMT, Wednesday, 21 April 2010 12:42 UK

Ousted Kyrgyz leader Bakiyev 'remains president'

Kurmanbek Bakiyev in Jalalabad, Kyrgyzstan (13 April 2010)
Mr Bakiyev said "no power" could stop him from being president

The ousted Kyrgyzstan leader Kurmanbek Bakiyev has said he remains the true president of the central Asian country.

Mr Bakiyev was speaking from Belarus, where he has now taken refuge after being overthrown in a violent uprising earlier this month.

He said he did not recognise earlier reports of his resignation and that "death alone" would stop him.

Kyrgyzstan's interim leaders have said he should stand trial over the unrest in which 85 people died.

"I, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, am the legally elected president of Kyrgyzstan and recognised by the international community," he told reporters in the Belarus capital, Minsk.

The new interim government, led by former foreign minister Roza Otunbayeva, had said Mr Bakiyev gave them a signed letter of resignation, but its authenticity has not been confirmed.

Facing trial

"I do not recognise my resignation. Nine months ago the people of Kyrgyzstan elected me their president and there is no power that can stop me. Only death can stop me," he said.

Protesters in Bishkek on 8 April 2010

He called on international leaders not to recognise Ms Otunbayeva's administration, calling it an "illegitimate gang".

Mr Bakiyev had initially fled to Kazakhstan after the opposition seized government, but on Tuesday Belarus's President Alexander Lukashenko said he and his family were in the country as "guests".

The interim government has said Mr Bakiyev is responsible for the deaths during the 7 April uprising and will be arrested and put on trial if he returns to Kyrgyzstan.

On Tuesday, Ms Otunbayeva criticised Belarus for taking in Mr Bakiyev, saying her countryfolk "may not react positively to Belarus taking in such a man, who has the lives of many people on his conscience".

The new leaders have asked Belarus to extradite the ousted president.

Mr Bakiyev said he was ready to face his responsibilities, but it was not clear whether this meant he would return to stand trial.

The new administration is attempting to restore order in Kyrgyzstan, amidst reports of sporadic unrest in the country.

On Monday, five people were killed in a dispute outside the capital, Bishkek. Hundreds of ethnic Kyrgyz are reported to have attacked the village of Mayevka, which has a largely Meskhetian Turkish population.

Meanwhile Bakiyev loyalists in his home town of Jalalabad, in the south of the country, have seized control of government buildings, demanding his return to power.

Mr Bakiyev spent about a week in Jalalabad trying to rally support before he fled to Kazakhstan on 15 April and then Belarus on Monday.

Correspondents say there are concerns such unrest could spread, in a country which has experienced deadly ethnic unrest in the past.

Ms Otunbayeva has said the security forces will use "deadly force" to protect themselves and civilians from armed assault.

The government has pledged to hold elections in late September or early October.



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