Kyrgyzstan leader resigns from office

President gets assurances he will not be prosecuted for wrongdoing in tenure


MOSCOW - President Askar Akayev of Kyrgyzstan resigned yesterday after receiving assurances that he would not face prosecution for any wrongdoing during his 14 years as the country's only post-Soviet leader.

Akayev's resignation, effective today, removed the last legal obstacle to holding a new presidential election, now scheduled for June, and could reduce political tensions that have divided the opposition leaders jockeying for power.

Akayev, who fled to Russia in the days after opposition protests toppled his government March 24, signed his resignation in the Kyrgyz Embassy here after a day of talks with leaders of the country's new Parliament, including its speaker, Omurbek Tekebayev.

Laws offer immunity

Kamybek Imananliyev, a member of Parliament who participated in the talks, said that the country's constitution and laws offered the guarantees of security and immunity that Akayev had sought as a condition for stepping down before his term officially ends in October.

"By all means, these conditions will be taken into account," he said in a telephone interview.

Akayev, who said Sunday that his resignation offered "a way out of the political crisis that Kyrgyzstan has found itself in," left the embassy without comment. His immediate plans - including whether he intends to return to his country - remain unclear.

Akayev made a statement, recorded on video but not immediately made public. Members of the delegation said the statement would be presented to the Parliament, which plans to meet today to begin considering the next political steps toward consolidating the authority of the new government, now led by an interim president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

Akayev, a Soviet-trained physicist first elected Kyrgyzstan's leader by its Parliament in 1990 and re-elected by popular vote a year later, began his presidency as a liberal reformer overseeing the country's new independence.

In recent years, however, his political opponents campaigned against increasing corruption and authoritarianism, and popular discontent boiled over after last month's parliamentary elections that opposition parties said were manipulated to ensure a pliant legislature.

Few alternatives

In a telephone interview last week, Akayev denounced the events in Kyrgyzstan as "an anti-constitutional seizure of power" by "combatants and criminals," but in the end he had few alternatives but to step aside, having lost not only popular support but also any authority over security services and other government agencies.

Bermet Bukasheva, another member of the delegation, said that in Akayev's statement, he highlighted what he considered the country's most important achievements since independence and called on its new leaders to ensure its democratic future.

"He asked for forgiveness if he had somehow caused offense to the people or individuals," she said in remarks broadcast on Russia's state television station, Rossiya.

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