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Sources: Kyrgyz president willing to resign, with conditions

From Ben Wedeman, CNN
Kyrgyzstan's ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiev, pictured on Friday in Jalal-Abad, remained defiant.
Kyrgyzstan's ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiev, pictured on Friday in Jalal-Abad, remained defiant.
  • Sources: Ousted Kyrgyz president willing to resign under certain conditions
  • One condition would be free passage for the president and his family out of the country
  • Bakiev says he doesn't recognize any actions by interim government

Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan (CNN) -- The ousted Kyrgyz president is willing to resign if he and his relatives are allowed safe passage out of the country, according to sources in southern Kyrgyzstan.

But there are sticking points in forging a deal that would allow Kurmanbek Bakiev to leave the central Asian country, engulfed by instability after fiery and deadly demonstrations raged in the capital of Bishkek last week.

Protesters took over the main government offices in the capital, including the presidential palace, and that forced Bakiev to flee to his native village near the city of Jalal-Abad in the country's south and ushered in the formation of an interim government led by political opposition leaders.

Some officials in the new government want to see Bakiev gone from the country, but others think he must be accountable for what they say are criminal actions.

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Some say Bakiev's son was allegedly involved in questionable dealings in contracts with foreign companies. And the interim government would like to put people around the president on trial for the killings of journalists and political activists.

Prosecutors brought a number of criminal charges Monday against relatives and associates of Bakiev.

In reaction to a report on the official news agency that the interim government decided to lift the president's immunity as head of state, Bakiev said, "I don't recognize such actions." He said he was elected by the people and whatever the interim government decides is not legitimate.

The former Soviet state is very important to both Russia and the United States. Russian is the second language in Kyrgyzstan and has a military base there. The United States has a military base there that is a key supply link for U.S. and NATO forces in the Afghan war.

The protests in Kyrgyzstan began last Tuesday in the northern city of Talas. They were sparked by increases in electricity and fuel rates, which had gone up at the first of the year as Bakiev's government sold public utilities to companies controlled by his friends.

Demonstrations spread to the capital Wednesday after the government arrested opposition leaders in Talas. More than 80 people were killed in the civil unrest, according to the Health Ministry.

Bakiev said on Monday he has no plans to leave the country, and that he hasn't ruled out talks with the new government. Interim government head Roza Otunbayeva said on Monday that there are negotiations under way between the interim government and Bakiev about his political future.

While even though things are getting back to normal, hostilities are simmering.

Citizens in an angry crowd near the Kyrgyz seat of government, the White House, said on Tuesday they would want to see Bakiev go on trial and they will head down to the southern part of the country to administer such justice against Bakiev if the interim government doesn't do it.

That would portend more discord because Bakiev has popular support in his southern home region, illustrated by the thousands that turned out for him in a rally on Tuesday in Jalal-Abad.

The old and the new authorities -- the ousted president who has lost much power and the interim government which lacks enough legitimacy or authority -- are anxious to avoid any confrontations by forging a political settlement.