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Kyrgyzstan close to form coalition government

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BISHKEK, April 7 (RIA Novosti) - Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev signed Saturday a decree appointing officials to head seven state agencies under the government, bringing the process of forming a coalition government closer to completion.

The latest tally leaves only two posts in the new 22-member Cabinet still vacant - the first deputy prime minister and the head of the state property management committee.

The poor Central Asian country has been rocked with protests and instability for several months. Opposition protests last fall resulted in the adoption of a new Constitution that delegated much of the president's authority to parliament.

But in December last year parliament voted to reinstate the presidential powers after Bakiyev threatened to dissolve the legislature. Prime Minister Kulov resigned amid confrontation with parliament in mid-December and joined the opposition in February.

Bakiyev appointed a liberal opposition leader, Almaz Atambayev, new premier in late March, and instructed him to form a coalition government. However, opposition members refused to join the new government, saying it would not change anything.

But Atambayev, former leader of the For Reform movement, was upbeat Wednesday about the progress made in forming a coalition Cabinet and said he was keeping the first deputy prime minister vacancy open in the hope that one of the opposition leaders would decide to join the government.

Meanwhile, The United Front led by Felix Kulov, a former presidential ally in the 2005 coup, Thursday issued an ultimatum to Bakiyev to sign a draft constitutional law delegating part of his powers to parliament by April 6.

The opposition said it would seek the president's immediate resignation unless he agreed to share his powers with parliament within 24 hours.

In response to the ultimatum, the Kyrgyz president conceded Friday that the current Constitution had many flaws but he said it cannot be constantly changed under pressure of a political crisis.

Bakiyev also said he is ready for political dialogue with any political force in the republic and willing to implement reasonable political reforms.

The opposition has scheduled a series of political rallies in the country for next week, and Felix Kulov previously said "power will be peacefully transferred on April 11."

Bakyev responded Friday that the authorities were not worried about possible public disturbances during the scheduled opposition rallies, although law enforcement agencies were ready to prevent any violence.

"I will take most stringent measures to prevent any violations of law and order and to punish those who would attempt such actions," the president said. "And the country knows about it."

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