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In NPR Interview, Kyrgyzstan's Interim Leader Reflects On Recent Violence

The violence-torn nation of Kyrgyzstan is still sorting out what sparked deadly ethnic clashes there two weeks ago, NPR's David Greene reports.

On Sunday, the country held a referendum on a new constitution that would shift authority from the president to a prime minister.

Earlier today, Greene spoke with Roza Otunbayeva, the interim leader of Kyrgyzstan, previously its ambassador to Great Britain. She assumed power in April, when Kurmanbek Bakiyev, the country's former president, was toppled in a bloody coup.

In the interview, Otunbayeva portrayed her country as a place with few good choices after years of authoritarian rule.

Asked if she bears responsibility for the ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan, she said "certainly we bear, because we have so many losses."

But it is not like we should be shot, or sort of, we are so guilty, or so on. We should work and continue to work to get out of this crisis.

Otunbayeva said she was plans to keep a U.S. military base in the country, at least until the U.S. is done using it for operations in Afghanistan.

"We are committed to our international agreements," she said.

Russia has tried to close the base.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

David Gura
Based in New York, David Gura is a correspondent on NPR's business desk. His stories are broadcast on NPR's newsmagazines, All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition, and he regularly guest hosts 1A, a co-production of NPR and WAMU.