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Hunger Striker's Death Heightens Kyrgyz Political Tension

The death of a hunger striker in Kyrgyzstan has prompted opposition politicians to call for the resignation of Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev. Sherali Nazarkulov, 51, died on February 7 following a 22-day hunger strike to protest the arrest of a member of parliament.

Akayev opponents allege the arrest of Azimbek Beknazarov on January 5 was politically motivated and designed to silence criticism of the government's policies. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archives]. Over 300 hunger strikers were continuing their protest, demanding Beknazarov's release from custody.

Several MPs lambasted Akayev in a written statement, blaming the president for creating a volatile political atmosphere in Kyrgyzstan. "The death of Sherali Nazarkulov is on the conscience of the president, who, as the guarantor of the Constitution of the Kyrgyz Republic must bear responsibility," said the statement, which was signed by members of the "Kyrgyzstan" and Communists of Kyrgyzstan parliamentary blocs.

"If until today we have tried to employ civilized methods of political struggle to draw attention to the current situation, at this very moment we can openly declare – we are out of patience

Alisher Khamidov is currently a Muskie Fellow graduate student at the Joan B. Kroc Institute of Peace Studies at Notre Dame University.

Hunger Striker's Death Heightens Kyrgyz Political Tension

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