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KYRGYZSTAN’S OUSTED PRESIDENT BAKIYEV’S IMMUNITY LIFTED

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Kurmanbek Bakiyev has insisted he is still the legitimate leader of Kyrgyzstan

The interim government of Kyrgyzstan has said President Kurmanbek Bakiyev no longer has presidential immunity and has called on him to surrender.

Interim security minister Azimbek Beknazarov said Mr Bakiyev would be arrested by force if he did not give himself up by the end of the day.

Mr Bakiyev was removed from office last week following violent protests.

He has refused to resign and has been attempting to rally support in the south of the country.

In a defiant move, the ousted president held a rally on Tuesday at a base in the city of Jalalabad.

He repeated that he was not responsible for the shooting of anti-government protesters last week and that he remained the only legitimate leader of the country.

“My power is in the people, not in me,” he told thousands of supporters.

Discontent
The interim government has ordered the president to return to the capital, Bishkek, or face arrest by special forces.

Mr Beknazarov said: “We can see that the president does not want to step down voluntarily and instead is issuing calls for actions against the people.” ANALYSIS

Rayhan Demytrie, BBC News Bishkek
This morning, thousands of supporters of Mr Bakiyev gathered in Jalalabad in the south – they were holding banners saying President Bakiyev is our president, we support him.

On Monday, we heard Mr Bakiyev suggesting moving the capital to the south. So what we are witnessing is a division of the country between the south – where Mr Bakiyev has based himself – and the capital in the north, from where the interim government says it controls Kyrgyzstan.

Things are calmer in Bishkek but tensions are still high. At night, people are not walking in the streets, they prefer to stay home and be safe. Although the interim government says they are fully in control, there is still uncertainty. People are waiting to see what will happen next, because either Mr Bakiyev will resign or, as he said, he will retaliate.

He said a criminal investigation had been opened against Mr Bakiyev, and said that Mr Bakiyev had until Tuesday afternoon to hand himself in to the authorities.

More than 80 people were killed last week in violent protests against Mr Bakiyev in Bishkek and other towns.

The violence was the culmination of weeks of discontent over rising prices and allegations of corruption in Kyrgyzstan.

The BBC's Rayhan Demytrie in Bishkek says that tensions remain high in the Central Asian republic.

The self-declared government, headed by a former foreign minster, Roza Otunbayeva, suggested earlier that Mr Bakiyev could leave Kyrgyzstan in return for his voluntarily resignation.

But our correspondent says the idea has caused dismay among the public, who are demanding that Mr Bakiyev be brought to justice.

The interim government has pledged to hold elections in six months' time and says the security forces are under its command.