( RIA Novosti ) - Kyrgyzstan's ex-prime minister and opposition bloc leader urged early presidential elections in the Central Asian state Monday.
Felix Kulov, quit as premier in mid-December and joined the opposition two months later, sparking new tensions in the ex-Soviet state that has been gripped by political infighting since the March 2005 ousting of longtime leader Askar Akayev.
"What we mean by early elections is that people voted for the tandem arrangement," Kulov told a news conference referring to his power-sharing deal with President Kurmanbek Bakiyev in 2005, when he dropped his presidential ambitions in exchange for the prime minister's post.
The deal envisions the immediate resignation of Bakiyev, who represents southern clans, in the event of the resignation or dismissal of Kulov, from the north.
Kulov resigned along with his Cabinet amid street protests over the Constitution and lack of progress in the promised reforms in the impoverished country. In January, Bakiyev twice nominated Kulov for prime minister, but MPs rejected the candidacy, declaring it illegal.
Kulov said the Unified Front for Kyrgyzstan's Decent Future also urged the reform of the Constitution: "For a short period of time, we adopted two Constitutions. The legitimacy of both is questionable."
He said adopting the Constitution in November was a "politically justified" move designed to end unrest. He said it was a "political compromise" unlike the December 30, 2006 Constitution, which was adopted without parliamentary debate and without heeding public concerns.
Lawmakers forced the president to sign a new constitution November 8 curtailing his and the government's authority in favor of the legislature. But Bakiyev, threatening to dissolve parliament, later made lawmakers backtrack and change the Constitution again, restoring much of his powers.
Kulov said those two demands were the main demands for the opposition alliance, which only appeared last month.
The ex-premier earlier criticized Bakiyev for pursuing personal ambitions and plunging the country deeper into the crisis. He said he had not been always successful in fighting corruption and crony relations in government while in office.