ACT in place in burning Kyrgyzstan

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Geneva 8. April - Kyrgyzstan's opposition is claiming it has taken power and dissolved the country’s parliament, after two days of turmoil that has resulted in insecurity but not created a humanitarian emergency, ACT Alliance says.

President Kurmanbek Bakiyev has fled the capital and Roza Otunbayeva, leader of the interim government, has demanded his resignation. Otunbayeva said Bakiyev was trying to rally supporters in his power base in southern Kyrgyzstan.

DanChurchAid regional representative Tatiana Kotova says the city centre is destroyed and many buildings set on fire, including parts of the government palace,  White House. Looting is widespread. The capital Bishkek awoke to blazing cars and burned-out shops on Thursday after a day in which at least 75 people were killed in clashes between protesters and security forces.

Young people arrive in the capital
“I have had a short walk in the city centre today and seen myself many groups of people with uncertain plans and wishes,” Tatiana Kotova says. “The opposition is sitting in the building of Parliament, while the crowd is destroying and burning the White House which is situated just across the park. Informal observers and partners report many trucks filled with young men approaching Bishkek from the north and the south.”

Ready to assist the poorest
The situation has not yet reached humanitarian emergency, ACT Alliance members report from Bishkek. While security has deteriorated and there is little food left in the stores, violence has not yet led to widespread food shortages or displacement. ACT Alliance members are in contact with implementing partners to determine their readiness to respond if the situation deteriorates further. With a focus on elderly, street youth and immigrant labourers, DanChurchAid says it will able to reach some of the most vulnerable segments of the population, should the situation grow worse.

“People’s revolt”
"People in Kyrgyzstan want to build democracy,” Roza Otunbayeva says. “You can call this revolution. You can call this a people's revolt. Either way, it is our way of saying that we want justice and democracy.” The uprising, which began on Tuesday in a provincial town, was sparked by discontent over corruption, nepotism and rising utility prices in a nation where a third of the 5.3 million population lives below the poverty line.

UN special envoy
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is sending a special envoy to Kyrgyzstan calling for calm in Kyrgyzstan. Mr Jan Kubis, a former Slovakian foreign minister and a former secretary general of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will arrive on Friday