Ousted Kyrgyz leader signs resignation

/ Source: The Associated Press

Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev, who fled the country last month after demonstrators stormed his offices, signed a resignation agreement Monday, a Kyrgyz lawmaker said.

Akayev signed the agreement a day after it was worked out in talks with a delegation representing Kyrgyzstan’s interim leadership, said lawmaker Sadyr Japarov.

The resignation is effective Tuesday, Japarov said outside the Kyrgyz Embassy. He was one of several lawmakers in the delegation that negotiated with Akayev.

Stabilizing move?
The resignation is likely to be a significant step toward restoring political order to the ex-Soviet Central Asian state, which was plunged into uncertainty after an anti-Akayev demonstration on March 24 exploded into a clash outside the presidential administration building. Riot police guarding the building fled and protesters rushed into the building.

Akayev surfaced in Russia several days later.

By stepping down, he would remove the last major obstruction to holding new presidential elections, which the interim government has tentatively scheduled for June 26. If Akayev did not step down, the legitimacy of such elections would be open to question.

Fears for Akayev's safety
Constitutional Court chairwoman Cholpon Bayekova told reporters Saturday that Akayev’s resignation could be signed outside the country as long as it was witnessed by a notary.

“It wouldn’t be right to insist that Akayev return and put his life in danger,” Bayekova said, adding that the presidential vote would probably be held as scheduled regardless of whether Akayev resigns.

The March 24 uprising was fueled by resentment over alleged corruption and poor living standards in the impoverished nation of 5 million people. It was further stoked by ire over February and March parliamentary elections, which the opposition said were rigged to fill the 75-member legislature with pro-Akayev lawmakers.

Akayev, 60, had led Kyrgyzstan since 1990, before it gained independence in the Soviet collapse. He was long considered the most democratic leader in the five ex-Soviet Central Asian nations, but was accused of increasingly cracking down on dissent in recent years and was reviled for alleged corruption.