updated 4/11/2005 4:01:14 AM ET 2005-04-11T08:01:14

Kyrgyzstan's parliament accepted ousted President Askar Akayev's resignation Monday, ending a debate that has paralyzed a new leadership, and set a new date for elections to pick a new leader.

Legislators voted 38-2 to "suspend Askar Akayev's presidential powers in connection with his offer of resignation." Three of the 60 lawmakers present abstained. The others did not vote, but it wasn't immediately clear why.

Parliament also set July 10 as the date for the next presidential elections. Last week it canceled its own earlier decision to hold the vote on June 26.

Parliamentary speaker Omurbek Tekebayev said Monday the lawmakers' decision was "of historic importance."

"We have legitimized the upcoming presidential elections, so that there will be no reason for any arguments and no post-election complications," said Tekebayev.

Formally ending Akayev's powers was a key step to bringing legitimacy to the new leadership.

Akayev, who ruled the former Soviet republic for 15 years, fled the country after opposition supporters stormed his office on March 24. Legislators initially rejected his April 4 offer to step down, arguing it was too dignified an exit for the disgraced leader.

Last week, legislators stripped Akayev of special privileges and guarantees he would have enjoyed as the Central Asian nation's first president, such as a lifetime membership in the nation's security council, a right to address the parliament and government, free access to the media and immunity for his family.

However, Akayev, now in exile in Moscow, retains immunity from prosecution -- something guaranteed by the constitution.

Once seen as the most liberal leader in Central Asia, Akayev wielded an increasingly heavy hand against opposition politicians in recent years.

Also on Monday, the country's Supreme Court overturned opposition leader Felix Kulov's corruption conviction, removing the last hurdle he faced in his bid for the presidency.

Kulov, a former vice president and security chief, spent more than four years in prison for corruption and other charges that he says were politically motivated. He was freed immediately after Akayev's overthrow.

Kulov, who last week was also cleared of an embezzlement conviction, is expected to be the strongest rival to acting President Kurmanbek Bakiyev in the upcoming contest.

The uprising grew out of a dispute over parliamentary elections and was fueled by deep-rooted poverty and allegations of corruption against Akayev and his family.

Kyrgyzstan -- a poor nation of 5 million -- was the latest former Soviet republic to face popular protests. Mass protests ushered the opposition into power in Ukraine last year and in Georgia in 2003.

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