Medvedev Fears 'Kyrgyz Civil War'

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Medvedev Fears 'Kyrgyz Civil War'

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Bakiyev has said he is ready to resign as long as his safety is guaranteed. (EPA)

The
Russian president has warned that neighbouring Kyrgyzstan is "on the
brink of civil war" after the president was forced to flee the capital,
Bishkek, in the aftermath of violent protests.

Dmitry Medvedev's
remarks in Wahington late on Tuesday came as the self-declared interim
goverment threatened to arrest Kurmanbek Bakiyev, the deposed president.

More
than 80 people were killed in the unrest that led Bakiyev to escape to
his power base in the south and Medvedev warned that Kyrgyzstan could
turn into a "second Afghanistan" if the subsequent political deadlock
is not resolved.

"The risk of Kyrgyzstan breaking apart - into the south and the
north - really exists," he said during a speech at Brookings
Institution think-tank.

Bakiyev has said he is ready to resign as long as his safety is guaranteed.

"In what case would I resign? First of all, they should guarantee
that in Kyrgyzstan there are no more people walking around with
weapons, and no seizures or redistribution of property," he told
reporters on Tuesday.

"Also, I need to know that my own security and the security of members of my family and those close to me will be assured."

Political standoff

Al Jazeera's Roza Ibragimova, reporting from the capital, Bishkek, described the situation as a "deadlock".

"I've just spoken to the chief of staff of Roza Otunbayeva
[self-declared interim leader], Edil Baisalov. He told me
Bakiyev's conditions are not new.

"They're not really interested
in hearing anything more from Bakiyev but he also said they're still
talking to him indirectly through media organisations and international
organisations.

"So, [the interim government] still wants to find a way out of this
without letting the situation escalate further, not letting the country
decent into chaos and more violence.

Otunbayeva told the
Associated Press news agency that her government would offer
security if Bakiyev stepped down and left the country.

"We will provide security guarantees which he's entitled to under the constitution," she said.

But there was no such offer for his family.

Reports on Tuesday suggested that a convoy of military vehicles was
on its way to Jalal'abad in the south, where Bakiyev has been rallying
suporters, and that his immunity from arrest had been removed.

But the interim government's chief of staff told the AFP news agency
that Otunbayeva has not yet signed any document ordering the arrest of
Bakiyev.

A court has, however, issued a warrant for Bakiyev's brother and
eldest son, as well as Daniyar Usenov, the former prime minister, over
the deaths in last week's protests.

Russian 'support'

Moscow
appears to have endorsed the interim government in Bishkek after
Otunbayeva held her first official conversation as head of
the government with Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, on
Thursday.

In one of her first public statements, Otunbayeva thanked Russia for
its "significant support" in exposing what she termed the "nepotistic,
criminal" government of Bakiyev.

On Wednesday, Robert Blake, the US assistant secretary of state for
south and central Asian affairs, held talks with the interim leader in
Bishkek.

"I feel optimistic about the steps [the interim government] is
already taking ... the United States is prepared to help," he said
after meeting Otunbayeva.

Otunbayeva meanwhile said that the future of the US use of the
Kyrgyz Manas airbase, which is essential for supplies to its troops in
Afghanistan, was not raised at the talks.

After last week's upheaval, members of Otunbayeva's government had suggested the lease of the base would be shortened.

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