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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Protest Loses Steam In Bishkek

APElderly Kyrgyz men walking in a tent camp in Bishkek's central square where about 1,000 people rallied Thursday.
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan -- The number of protesters demanding the Kyrgyz president's resignation dropped sharply to about 1,000 on the second day of an opposition rally in Kyrgyzstan's capital Thursday.

The falling attendance eased pressure on the government and President Kurmanbek Bakiyev and indicated that the opposition had limited popular support.

About 6,000 activists had gathered Wednesday at Bishkek's main square, near the presidential headquarters, and the opposition vowed to at least double the number on Thursday and to stay on until Bakiyev resigned.

But only about 1,000 showed up Thursday to hear speeches by opposition leaders, who criticized Bakiyev for purported corruption and warned that authorities planned provocations against the opposition.

Former Prime Minister Felix Kulov reiterated that the opposition would achieve its goals through peaceful protests. "The pressure on the government will be of permanent nature," Kulov said.

Bakiyev, who came to power after a popular street revolution two years ago, sought to head off the protest by signing constitutional amendments curtailing his power Tuesday. The opposition rejected his move and set up a tent camp.

Hundreds of police and troops have been camping in tents around the presidential headquarters since Wednesday.

Ikbol Mirsaidov, a Kyrgyz political analyst, said the opposition would back off only if Bakiyev agreed to redistribute control of economic and political "spheres of influence."