|Kurmanbek Bakiyev fled his country’s capital Wednesday. (Sergei Grits/Associated Press)|
Kyrgyzstan’s deposed president seeks UN intervention
TEYIT, Kyrgyzstan — Kyrgyzstan’s deposed president yesterday defended the legitimacy of his rule and urged the United Nations to send peacekeepers to help stabilize the strategically vital Central Asian nation.
President Kurmanbek Bakiyev said in an interview at his home village in the south of the country that he had not ordered police to fire at protesters in the capital. “My conscience is clear,’’ he said.
Bakiyev fled the capital, Bishkek, on Wednesday after a protest rally against corruption, rising utility bills, and deteriorating human rights exploded into police gunfire and chaos that left at least 81 people dead and sparked protesters to storm the government headquarters.
Looking self-assured and calm, Bakiyev denounced the protest as a “coup’’ and angrily rejected the self-proclaimed interim government’s demand to step down.
“I’m the head of state,’’ he said.
The stalemate has left Kyrgyzstan’s near-term stability in doubt, a worry for the West because of the US air base in Kyrgyzstan that is a crucial element in the international military campaign against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Bakiyev strongly urged the UN to send a peacekeeping force to Kyrgyzstan, arguing that the nation’s police and the military are too weak to keep the unrest from spreading.
“The people of Kyrgyzstan are very afraid,’’ Bakiyev said. “They live in terror.’’
The head of the interim government, Roza Otunbayeva, said yesterday that Bakiyev must face trial, rescinding an earlier offer of security guarantees for him. The statement reflected the toughening of the new authorities’ stance as they grow increasingly impatient with Bakiyev’s refusal to step down.
Speaking to a crowd of supporters yesterday at his family mansion, Bakiyev warned the government against an attempt to arrest him, saying that it will lead to bloodshed. Servants treated the crowd to a traditional rice dish and dumplings.
Outside, gangs of young men barricaded a road leading to his house with cars, but they didn’t have any weapons.
Bakiyev called for an international investigation of the violence in Bishkek.