Ousted Kyrgyz president Kurmanbek Bakiyev in Belarus

By Emer Martin.

Kurmanbek Bakiyev, the Kyrgyz president ousted from office in a violent uprising earlier this month, is in Belarus, the country's leader has confirmed.

On Tuesday president Alexander Lukashenko, told the Belarussian parliament that Mr Bakiyev had been in the country with four members of his family as guests since Monday evening.

"He is with us under the defence of our state and president," said Mr Lukashenko. "He is the president of a state with which we are friendly."

In the televised comments Mr Lukashenko added: "Bakiyev asked me to take him in several times. He wasn't asking for his own sake. That's what stunned me and brought me to tears. He said, 'Alexander, take my family. I feel sorry for my children, they're not guilty of anything'."

It is not clear which members of the former Kyrgyz president's family are with him in Belarus.

Arrest warrants have been issued by the Kyrgyz interim government for members of Mr Bakiyev's family who have been accused of corruption and misconduct while he held office.

And Edil Baisalov, a member of the interim government, told the Russian Interfax news agency on Tuesday that Mr Bakiyev would only be allowed to return to Kyrgyzstan "in the capacity of a prisoner".

But it is believed Mr Bakiyev's stay could exacerbate Belarus' tensions with the West as well as its difficult relations with neighboring Russia.

Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, has called for Kyrgyzstan's interim government to hold elections to legitimise its authority if it wants full-fledged economic co-operation with Russia.

The former president fled to Kazakhstan from Kyrgyzstan on April 15th after attempting to rally enough support to challenge the opposition leaders' newly formed coalition government.

In the immediate aftermath of the bloody uprising which saw protestors storming government offices in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek nearly two weeks ago, interim leader Roza Otunbayeva had offered the former president safe passage out of the country. Mr Bakiyev did not accept her offer.

But new unrest erupted within Kyrgyzstan on Monday as hundreds of protestors armed with sticks and stones clashed with land owners and then headed to the outskirts of the capital of Bishkek, local news reports said. Five people are reported to have been killed in the fracas, al-Jazeera news agency has said.


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