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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bakiyev Backs Down, Fires Senior Officials

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan -- Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev on Monday gave in to opposition demands to fire some key law enforcement officials as police officers deployed to guard the presidential headquarters went over to the protesters' side

The Kyrgyz leader steadfastly refused protesters' calls to resign, however.

Bakiyev agreed to a meeting with the opposition as thousands of protesters massed outside his headquarters, known as the White House, for a fifth day. At the height of the rally, the crowd reached about 10,000 and some members even scaled the fence surrounding the government headquarters, but only about half remained in the square by the time darkness fell over the Kyrgyz capital.

Bakiyev's concessions seemed to have cooled the crowd, but they continued to demand that he and Kyrgyz Prime Minister Felix Kulov resign.

Bakiyev agreed Monday to work out a new version of constitutional reforms intended to curb his powers, establish a new government "that people can trust," and turn state-owned television into a publicly controlled channel, said Almazbek Atambayev, an opposition leader.

He also fired Kyrgyz acting Interior Minister Osmonaly Guronov, Prosecutor General Kambaraly Kongantiyev and his brother, the head of the Interior Ministry in Bishkek, Maldamusa Kongantiyev. The opposition has accused all three of corruption and obstructing investigations into the family of former President Askar Akayev and recent killings of lawmakers.

They also were seen as instrumental in blocking an investigation into the killing of six peaceful demonstrators by police in the city of Aksu in 2002, when Bakiyev was prime minister. Bakiyev agreed Monday to the opposition demand to restart the Aksu investigation.

As the rally persisted, police officers dropped their clubs and shields and joined the protesters. Some addressed the crowd, saying they did not want to "be against the people."

The newly appointed interior minister, Omurbek Suvanaliyev, addressed the protesters, saying: "I'm with my people and will not shoot at my people."

The governors of two northern regions, Askar Salymbekov in the Naryn region and Jyrgalbek Azylov in Talas, resigned and said they were joining the protests, opposition lawmaker Melis Eshimkhanov said. The government did not confirm the resignations.

Several hundred National Guard troops still surrounded the White House.

Earlier on Monday, 31 lawmakers from the For Reforms opposition movement refused to attend the parliament to hear Bakiyev submit his constitutional reforms, said opposition lawmaker Azimbek Beknazarov.

A parliamentary vote can only go ahead with a quorum of two-thirds of the 72 lawmakers, so the opposition boycott prevented a vote on the president's proposed amendments.