Kyrgyzstan tries absent ex-pres
Bishkek - Kyrgyzstan said on Tuesday it would no longer seek the extradition of ousted president Kurmanbek Bakiyev from his refuge in Belarus and would instead try him in absentia on charges of mass murder.
Belarus, where Bakiyev fled in April following days of bloody street riots that ousted his government and left dozens of people dead, has repeatedly refused extradition requests from the Central Asian state.
"We will no longer be sending any requests for his extradition to Belarus. We will try him in absentia, as is allowed under our legislation," Kyrgyz Vice-Premier Azimbek Beknazarov said.
Kyrgyzstan, a deeply impoverished ex-Soviet state bordering China, has been battered by political and ethnic violence since Bakiyev was forced from office during the April protests over corruption and rising prices.
Bakiyev is wanted by Bishkek in connection with the shooting deaths of more than 80 demonstrators during the unrest that culminated in his overthrow, as well as for financial crimes committed during his five-year rule.
Struggling to impose order
Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbayeva, a former ambassador to both the US and Britain, has struggled to impose order since assuming power, particularly in the deeply divided southern regions that make up Bakiyev's traditional power base.
Last month protestors loyal to the mayor of the southern city of Osh, Melis Myrzakhmatov, an outspoken critic of the central government, attacked and beat a government minister sent to calm the crowd, further underscoring tensions.
The government, which won a July referendum to transform the country into the region's first parliamentary democracy, is set to hold a nationwide poll on October 10.
If the elections are held successfully, they would be historic for ex-Soviet Central Asia - a region that has been ruled by Soviet-era strongmen since the collapse of Communism almost two decades ago.