U.S. Monitors Developments in Kyrgyzstan, Rumsfeld Says
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
GUATEMALA CITY, Mar. 24, 2005 Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said today the United States is closely watching developments in Kyrgyzstan.
After meeting with Guatemalan President Oscar Jose Rafael Berger Perdomo and Minister of Defense Carlo Humberto Aldana Villanueva here, Rumsfeld told reporters the United States is monitoring the situation in the Central Asian nation.
Early today, protesters stormed Kyrgyzstan's main government building in Bishkek and demanded the resignation of the country's president, Askar Akayev. Among their other complaints, the demonstrators have accused senior Kyrgyzstan leaders of approving flawed parliamentary elections held earlier this month. Rumsfeld also said press reports saying Akayev has left the country aren't corroborated by U.S. intelligence.
Kyrgyzstan is a former Soviet possession that provided bases that sustained U.S. military efforts during Operation Enduring Freedom. A contingent of U.S. troops remains at Manas air base in the country in support of coalition efforts in Afghanistan.
Kyrgyzstan has a poor economy and is experiencing high unemployment. The country has minerals such as gold, but has realized scant oil revenues, unlike its neighbors with more robust petroleum production facilities.