[JURIST] Former Kyrgyz foreign minister Roza Otunbayeva [Telegraph profile] announced Thursday that she will lead an interim government in Kyrgyzstan after violent protests [JURIST report] Wednesday apparently ousted president Kurmanbek Bakiyev [BBC profile] and his administration. Otunbayeva, leader of the Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan [party website, in Russian], urged Bakiyev to resign and said that her temporary government will rule for six months [Guardian report] until the country holds democratic elections. Bakiyev, who fled the capital city Wednesday, said in a statement Thursday that he will not resign [AP report]. Also Thursday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] announced that he will send an envoy to Kyrgyzstan and encouraged calm [UN News Centre report] in the unstable country. Ban said in a statement [text] that "while freedom of assembly is an essential element of any democratic society, the rule of law must be respected." Rights groups have also urged leaders to respect human rights [HRW press release].
The violent protests, which appear prompted [NYT report] in part by a drastic increase in utility costs, began late Tuesday night in the city Talas then spread throughout the country Wednesday. Reports vary as to the number of citizens killed during the protests, with Kyrgyz opposition officials reporting more than 60 deaths and more than 400 injuries. Interior Minister Moldomus Kongantiyev was killed [AFP report] during an attack by protesters, while former prime minister and presidential candidate Almazbek Atambayev and former parliament speaker Omurbek Tekebayev were among the many opposition leaders arrested [AFP report]. The protesters also took control [Reuters report] of the country's television station, and approximately a thousand people surrounded the prosecutor-general's office and set it on fire. The protests came a week after Ban called on Kyrgyzstan to protect all forms of human rights [JURIST report]. The statements follow recent events [RIA Novosti report] in the country that include the shutdown of an opposition newspaper, a police raid on a local television station that resulted in the station being taken off the air, and the confiscation of computers from a video web portal based on allegations of pirated software use.