Filed under: Kyrgyzstan
The Taliban has nothing on these guys when it comes to organizing and getting your people out there in the springtime. Kyrgyz opposition forces, meanwhile, know how to party like its 2005 and the Tulip Revolution was just a rehearsal. Right now 10,000 protesters, and apparently many more to come, have gathered in Bishkek's Alatoo Square to demand the implementation of promised reforms and the resignation of President Bakiev.
April 11, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- A crowd estimated to number more than 10,000 people is rallying on Bishkek's central Alatoo Square to demand the resignation of Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev.Nearly two years ago the Tulip Revolution swept the old autocrats in power and swept in... well, new ones with new promises that never really came to fruition. Promises to dilute the power of the president never truly came to pass, while other reforms haven't even been touched.
Other protesters are marching toward the square from various parts of the city. Organizers of the protest say Bakiev has not fulfilled promises he made when campaigning for the presidency two years ago and that he appears unwilling or unable to make good on his pledges.
The opposition United Front For A Worthy Future For Kyrgyzstan and the For Reforms movement says 50,000 people will take to the streets of the Kyrgyz capital.
Protesters started their march from Jengish (Victory) Square toward Alatoo (Freedom) Square chanting as they walked, "Bakiev Go! Bakiev Must Go!" (View images of today's demonstration.)
MORE: Coverage in Kyrgyz from RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service.
On Alatoo Square, a crowd, estimated to number more than 10,000 people, held up banners reading "Reforms Without Bakiev," as leaders of the United Front gave speeches. About 100 yurts and tents have been set up to accommodate those planning to stay overnight.
New Prime Minister Almaz Atambaev spoke on Alatoo Square, but was unable to finish his speech because of noise from the crowd and left shortly afterwards.Atambaev is the leader of the opposition Social Democratic Party and has said several times since becoming prime minister less than two weeks ago that he represents the interests of the opposition.
It appears, though, that many of the opposition leaders hail from old ruling class of northern Kyrgyzstan where ousted President Akaev is from, while Bakiev gets most of his support in the south. So there is a tint of regionalism to all of this, though of course there are people in on both sides that support the opposite side. However, there are also many that simply want the reforms, and others who have broken from Bakiev's government as well. It looks pretty diverse as far as I can tell.
By the way Akaev fled the country and how Bakaev capitulated to changes to the constitution last January, I fully expect that he will do so once again. Even though he tried to sneak his power back in December (which is why these protests are going on anyway), yesterday he approved a package of reforms that would once again give more power to parliament. But it appears as if the opposition don't believe him this time. Once again, we may be seeing another revolution in Kyrgyzstan. I'm calling it Tulip II, for what it's worth.
Remember to keep checking out Registan for up to date information on how this is going!