- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 13, 2010

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan (AP) — Kyrgyzstan’s deposed president said Tuesday he will resign if the interim authorities guarantee his security, and the head of the security services said he was ready to make such a promise.

The statements could point to a resolution of the tensions that have gripped the country since President Kurmanbek Bakiyev fled the capital during an uprising that left at least 83 people dead last week. The tensions in the impoverished, strategically important former Soviet Central Asian nation worry the United States and Russia, both of which have military bases in Kyrgyzstan.

The U.S. base, at the capital’s international airport, is a key piece in the NATO military campaign against the Taliban in Afghanistan, providing refueling flights for warplanes over Afghanistan and is a transit point for troops.

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Mr. Bakiyev told reporters in his home southern village of Teyit that “I will resign if security is guaranteed for me and my relatives.”

Shortly thereafter, the head of the security service of the interim government, Keneshbek Duishebayev, said “we are ready to guarantee security to him and his family.”

However, when asked specifically about Mr. Bakiyev’s brother and son, Mr. Duishebayev declined to comment. Those men are among the Bakiyev relatives most often accused of reaping massive wealth through improper channels; complaints about corruption were a prime issue in the events that drove him out of the capital.

Mr. Bakiyev did not detail what sort of security guarantees he was looking for. The opposition figures who formed a self-declared interim government after he fled the capital had previously offered him safe passage out of the country, but Mr. Bakiyev has shown no intention of leaving Kyrgyzstan and there are doubts about whether any country would accept him. He also proposed that Roza Otunbayeva, the head of the interim government, come to his southern home base for talks and guaranteed safety for her and other officials.

Mr. Bakiyev made his resignation offer hours after rallying with about 5,000 adherents in an apparent test of how much support he could muster for resisting the opposition authorities. Although the crowd of supporters that greeted Mr. Bakiyev on Tuesday was highly emotional, there have been persistent doubts about how much backing he has and whether he commanded enough loyalty in the security forces to mount serious resistance.

Associated Press Writers Peter Leonard in Teyit and Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed to this story.