Kyrgyzstan Uprising Forces President to Flee

–Parliament elects interim leader; protesters seize state-run TV

BISHKEK (AP)–President Askar Akayev fled Kyrgyzstan on Thursday after protesters stormed his headquarters–seized control of state television–and rampaged through government offices–throwing computers and air conditioners out of windows.

A leading opponent of the Akayev regime–Felix Kulov–was freed from prison and praised the "revolution made by the people." Kulov said Akayev had signed a letter of resignation–the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.

Members of the parliament–that was in power before February’s disputed election–met Thursday night and elected former opposition lawmaker Ishenbai Kadyrbekov as the country’s interim president.

Sitting in Akayev’s chair surrounded by supporters–another opposition activist–Ulan Shambetov–praised the latest uprising to sweep a former Soviet republic.

The takeover of government buildings in Bishkek followed similar seizures by opposition activists in southern Kyrgyzstan–including the second-largest city–Osh. Those protests began even before the first round of parliamentary elections on Feb. 27 and swelled after March 13 runoffs that the opposition said were seriously flawed.

Another opposition leader–Kurmanbek Bakiyev–appeared on state TV and declared: "Akayev is no longer on the territory of Kyrgyzstan."

Bakiyev also said the prime minister had resigned but that those in charge of the Security–Interior and Defense ministries were working with the opposition.

The whereabouts of Akayev–who ruled Kyrgyzstan for 15 years–were not clear. The Interfax news agency–without citing sources–said Akayev had flown to Russia but later said he had landed in Kazakhstan.

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