Roza Otunbayeva -- a former foreign minister who five years ago helped now-discredited president Kurmanbek Bakiyev gain power following the Tulip Revolution -- is leading a nascent coalition government in Bishkek. The full form of the new government was still taking shape during the early hours of April 8, amid political jockeying by various opposition figures.
Otunbayeva and Temir Sariyev, another opposition leader, asserted that Prime Minister Daniyar Usenov tendered the government's resignation. "The opposition is now in complete control," Otunbayeva told the official Russian news agency RIA Novosti.
While the provisional government can claim to wield the levers of power inside government offices, its authority clearly does not yet extend to the streets. Omurbek Tekebayev, leader of the Ata-Meken (Fatherland) party appeared on state broadcaster LTR just after 8:30 pm and told viewers that the provisional government was in charge of enforcing a curfew in Bishkek. Throngs of citizens disregarded the curfew, however, as widespread looting continued into the night in Bishkek.
More ominous for the prospects of a quick return of stability, several local reports indicated that Bakiyev was refusing to resign and that he had fled to Osh, Kyrgyzstan's southern capital. Bakiyev's presence in Osh could not be independently confirmed, but if the local reports were accurate, they would indicate that Bakiyev has not abandoned hopes of regaining power.
Although political support for Bakiyev has evaporated in northern Kyrgyzstan, leaders of the provisional government now worry that Bakiyev might try to rally support in the South, his home region. While it seems doubtful that the military and Interior Ministry forces will now follow his orders, as long as Bakiyev remains on Kyrgyz territory he could make trouble for the provisional government. His presence in Osh could exacerbate long-standing North-South tension in Kyrgyzstan, something that could lead to a prolonged period of political confrontation in the country.
David Trilling is EurasiaNets Central Asia news editor. EurasiaNet writer Deirdre Tynan contributed reporting to this article.
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