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Rally in support of jailed ex-speaker gathers pace in southern Kyrgyzstan

December 02, 2013, 15:44 UTC+3 BISHKEK
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BISHKEK, December 02. /ITAR-TASS/. Supporters of the jailed ex-parliamentary speaker, Akhmatbek Keldibekov, continue to gather in central square of Osh, southern Kyrgyzstan, a witness told Itar-Tass by phone on Monday.

The number of protesters demanding Keldibekov’s release from prison increased to 5,000-6,000. “In the morning there were no more than 1,000 people,” the witness said. “Protesters have not been taking illegal actions, but warn they are ready to go to extremes, if Keldibekov is not freed within three hours.”

Osh mayor Melisbek Myrzakmatov was seen among protesters, he said.

During a news conference the former speaker’s supporters expressed readiness to seize several state and administrative buildings in Osh, if the authorities ignored their demands. Soon after Kyrgyzstan’s state national security committee issued an official warning to participants of the news conference.

Earlier on Monday protesters had already taken attempts to storm the regional administration’s building, but police prevented the attempts. The crowd was throwing stones and bottles at police officers. There have been no reports about victims so far.

According to the Kyrgyz media, Deputy Prime Minister for Defence, Security and Law Enforcement Tokon Mamytov said the law enforcement bodies had enough means to keep the situation in Osh under control.

Several days ago the prosecutor’s office of the Central Asian republic instituted a criminal case against Keldibekov on charges of corruption and abuse of power. Keldibekov is suspected of taking an unlawful decision to open offices of the legislative body abroad.

Keldibekov served as speaker of the Kyrgyz parliament. Two years ago the ruling parliamentary coalition was reformed and he together with his Ata-Zhurt party (Fatherland) had to move into opposition and leave his post as speaker.

The current Kyrgyz parliament includes five political parties. Aside from Ata-Zhurt these are Respublika, the Social-Democratic Party, Ata-Meken (Fatherland) and Ar-Namys (Dignity). The last three parties formed the coalition forcing Respublika and Ata-Zhurt to go into opposition. Every party enjoys practically a similar number of parliamentary mandates.

The immunity does not cover parliamentarians in Kyrgyzstan if they are accused of corruption.

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