U.S. Official: the Kyrgyz Government is Having “Trouble Exercising Command over the Security Forces”

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake meets refugees from Kyrgyzstan at a camp in Uzbekistan.

From Clifford J. Levy, the New York Times:  The provisional Kyrgyz government has lost control of large areas in the southern part of the country because of its failure to quell attacks that have killed at least several hundred ethnic Uzbeks, and possibly many more. As many as 400,000 have fled their homes. …

On Friday, the interim president [Roza Otunbayeva] flew to the affected regions for the first time since the violence began on the night of June 10. She has not responded to numerous credible reports that elements of the military carried out horrific assaults on ethnic Uzbeks. The reports indicate that the government, which took office in April after rioting ousted the Kyrgyz president, does not have the full allegiance of the military.

“They fear the generals,” a prominent Kyrgyz human rights lawyer, Nurbek Toktakunov, said Thursday. “Sooner or later, these issues are going to have to be tackled.”

This reluctance is especially striking because the government has charged that the deposed president, Kurmanbek S. Bakiyev, incited the violence as a way to return to office. But it has yet to explain how Mr. Bakiyev exercised that power or whether senior military officers remain loyal to him, allowing him to use troops to incite ethnic warfare.

American officials are keeping a close eye on the conflict, not least because the United States has an important military base on the outskirts of the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, that supplies the expanding NATO mission in Afghanistan. An American official in Washington confirmed that the Kyrgyz government was having “trouble exercising command over the security forces.” (photo: Reuters)

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