Kyrgyz President sends amnesty bill back for streamlining

Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev has returned to parliament a draft law entitled "On Amnesty in connection with Events on 17 and 18 March in Aksy and on 7 and 8 June on the 447th Kilometer of the Bishkek-Osh Highway, presidential press service announced Thursday. The two houses of Kyrgyzstan's parliament had ratified the draft law at an earlier date.

A presidential spokesperson said the President had effectively vetoed the bill at the behest of the country's Cabinet, which had indicated the draft law needs to be streamlined and expanded in the section concerning compensations for those who suffered damages in the riots.

First Deputy Prime Minister Kurmanbek Osmonov told a news conference in Bishkek Thursday that the Cabinet believes the participants in mass demonstrations and pickets at the time scarcely have the wherewithal to reimburse residents of the Aksy area for damages their dwellings and other real estate sustained because of arsons. Nor are the picketers that for a whole week blocked the strategically important Bishkek-Osh road -- the only road link between the north and south of the country -- likely ever to reimburse transport organizations and individuals for losses they suffered from the blockade, argued Osmonov.

He went on to say the Cabinet is ready to shoulder the costs of those reimbursements by earmarking funds in the country's budget.

A streamlined amnesty bill will be submitted to parliament next fall. The legislature will have to pass it once again.

Clashes between police and protesters at the village of Kerben, Aksy District, Kyrgyzstan, last March resulted in 5 deaths and scores of injuries. Early last June, picketers attempted to block the Bishkek-Osh road to have those they held responsible for the Aksy tragedy brought to justice. In a desperate bid to quell the growing civil unrest in the south of the country, the government of the Central Asian state had to submit a bill to parliament whereby an amnesty would be granted to all rioters.

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