Relative calm returned to the streets of Kyrgyzstan's capital Bishkek. In the corridors of power, meanwhile, the country's provisional government struggled to restore a sense of order in the country's political life.
Since March 24, when protesters drove President Askar Akayev from power, the actions of Kyrgyzstan's new leaders have often been contradictory, as they have probed for ways to infuse the provisional government with an air of legitimacy. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. Much of the confusion can be traced to the lack of clarity in the legislative branch. Indeed, for the past several days, two national law-making bodies have functioned, each claiming to be the country's rightful legislature. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].
On March 28, the country's new unicameral legislature secured recognition from the new political elite as the country's legitimate parliament, even though accusations of widespread voting fraud during the recent election served as the catalyst for the protest movement that brought about Akayev's sudden downfall. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. The unicameral legislature confirmed Kurmanbek Bakiyev as the provisional prime minister, and then sought to resolve uncertainty in the executive branch, generated mainly by the fact that Akayev refused to formally resign before fleeing.
Omurbek Tekebayev -- the new parliament speaker, who, like Bakiyev, was a prominent figure in the former political opposition said that a new presidential election should be held only after consultations were held with Akayev. The old bicameral legislature, which continues to function, had set a presidential election date for June 26, but the decision came under immediate fire from both inside and outside the country. The head of the Bishkek office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Markus Mueller, suggested that the electoral timeframe, given the lack of political consensus in the country, was "unrealistic," the AKIpress news agency reported. Mueller warned that an attempt to press ahead with an early election date could deepen Kyrgyzstan's political instability.
Tekebayev indicated that Akayev needed to make a formal renunciation of authority to get Kyrgyzstan back on a constitutional course. "I don't know whether this task is accomplishable," Tekebayev said during a March 28 news conference, discussing the possibility that provisional leaders could coax Akayev into resigning.
"The appointment of acting President Bakiyev and the holding of a pre-term presidential election in the event that Akayev refuses to resign are deliberately unconstitutional steps, though necessary," Tekebayev said.
Akayev is reportedly in Russia, and shows no signs of relinquishing his claim to the presidency. On March 28, he distributed a statement via the Kabar news agency haranguing the provisional leadership for reckless behavior. The statement appeared to be an attempt by Akayev to set himself up for a potential political comeback. In it, Akayev cast himself as a "convinced democrat." He went on to suggest that the new leaders had severely damaged the country's international image. "We were all proud that the international community once called Kyrgyzstan