Opposition leader detained in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyz police detained an prominent opposition leader on Saturday, accusing him and his supporters of trying to organise an illegal protest.

Opposition leader detained in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyz police detained an prominent opposition leader on Saturday, accusing him and his supporters of trying to organise an illegal protest.

Omurbek Tekebayev, head of the opposition Ata Meken party, told Reuters he had been detained in the northern Talas region where his party had been due to hold a conference.

"I have been detained," he said by telephone from a regional detention centre. "They are now processing documentation accusing me of trying to hold an unsanctioned rally."

A Kyrgyz Interior Ministry spokesman confirmed Tekebayev's detention but could not give more details.

Tekebayev, long at odds with Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, has sharpened his criticism of the authorities over past months and used difficult economic times, caused by a global financial crisis, to unite the opposition.

The former parliament speaker denied any wrongdoing, saying his party members were forced to move their meeting outdoors after police raided their conference venue in a local village.

"The conference was interrupted," he said, adding that the police had also confiscated a number of his hunting rifles which he said were properly registered.

Kyrgyzstan has been volatile since 2005 when Bakiyev came to power after mass rallies toppled his long-serving predecessor. The opposition has said it may organise a fresh wave of protests urging Bakiyev to resign.

Any instability in Kyrgyzstan is a worry to Russia and the Unites States, which both operate military airbases in the strategically placed but impoverished Muslim nation.

Broader public criticism of Bakiyev's rule has been on the rise due to falling incomes and fears of economic stagnation, as well as electricity blackouts across the ex-Soviet nation caused by domestic energy shortages.

Reuters
Last Mod: 18 Ocak 2009, 12:47
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