Kyrgyz government prepares to shut U.S. base

Other News Materials 4 February 2009 15:25 (UTC +04:00)

Kyrgyzstan's government has submitted a decree to parliament to shut down a U.S. airbase in the Central Asian state, an official spokesman said on Wednesday.

U.S. military personnel will be given 180 days to close operations and leave once the final decision is made, reported Reuters.

Parliamentary approval is seen as a formality in a country whose the chamber, dominated by the pro-presidential Ak Zhol party, tends to rubber stamp government initiatives.

"A draft decree on terminating the agreement on the U.S. airbase has been sent to parliament," spokesman Aibek Sultangaziyev said. "It is up to parliament now to decide when to hold discussions on this."

The government said in a statement it decided to close the Manas airbase, set up in 2001, partly because it felt most people in the mainly Muslim nation disapproved of its existence.

The opposition has criticised the government's plan, saying moving closer into Russia's orbit would sour their country's ties with the West and hamper Kyrgyz efforts to bring more democracy to the impoverished ex-Soviet nation.