Belarus says ousted Kyrgyz leader welcome

The deposed president of Kyrgyzstan, Kurmanbek Bakiyev on Monday left Kazakhstan a day after the Belarusian president said that the ousted president would be welcome in his country.

Kazakh Foreign Ministry spokesman Ilyas Omarov told The Associated Press he didn't know where Bakiyev was headed. "He's left Kazakhstan - there are no details on his planned destination," Omarov said by telephone from the Kazakh capital, Astana.

Bakiyev fled to Kazakhstan on Thursday, eight days after he was driven out of the Kyrgyz capital in the wake of a bloody uprising. It is unclear how long he intended to remain in Kazakhstan or how long that country would allow him to stay.

Belarus' state news agency Belta quoted President Alexander Lukashenko as saying he would welcome Bakiyev "as the dearest guest, as my colleague." "If the president of Kyrgyzstan and his family need support and assistance at this difficult time, it will be shown in Belarus," Lukashenko was quoted as saying.

Welcoming Bakiyev could exacerbate Belarus' tensions with the West as well as its difficult relations with neighboring Russia. Some observers have suggested Russia played a role in Bakiyev's downfall, angry that he backed off his promise last year to evict the United States from its air base in Kyrgyzstan; Russia also has a base in the former Soviet Central Asian nation.

Both the United States and Russia were involved in the deal under which Bakiyev was allowed to fly to Kazakhstan. But none of those countries have expressed approval of him and the arrangement appeared aimed largely at pulling Kyrgyzstan back from violence and even civil war.

Meanwhile, new unrest erupted in Kyrgyzstan on Monday as hundreds of rioters armed with sticks and stones clashed with landowners and then moved on to the capital Bishkek, local news reports said. The group, which earlier seized land in the village of Mayevka outside the capital demanded talks with Bishkek officials and moved toward the city center, media including Azattyk Radio and official news agency Kabar reported.

--------- Compiled from AP and AFP stories by the Daily News staff


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