Toppled President of Kyrgyzstan Bakiyev Refuses to Step Down

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev Monday made his first public appearance since being ousted in a wave of violent protests, defiantly slamming his opponents and refusing to step down.

Bakiyev, who fled the capital Bishkek last week amid the protests against his rule that left at least 81 people dead, was addressing a crowd of thousands of supporters in his home village of Teyit in southern Kyrgyzstan, AFP reported.

"Let them try to seize me, let them try to kill me. I believe this will lead to such a great deal of bloodshed which no one will be able to justify," he told reporters after speaking to thousands of supporters in a town in the south of the country.

Mr Bakiyev fled Bishkek to his stronghold in the south on April 7th after troops fired on protesters outside his offices, killing at least 81 people. The interim government says he must step down or possibly face arrest.

"We are preparing a special operation [against Bakiyev]," Almaz Atambayev, the first deputy leader of the interim government, told reporters in Bishkek.

"But he is hiding behind a human shield . . . we hope we can carry it out without the deaths of civilians," Mr Atambayev said. He refused to give any further details about the operation or to say when it would take place.

Yesterday, the new government, led by Mr Bakiyev's one-time allies, said it would not use force against Mr Bakiyev but suggested it may act to arrest him and try him for the deaths in Bishkek, Irish Times says.

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