Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

OSCE to Send Police to Kyrgyzstan

ALMATY, Kazakhstan — The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said it would send a 52-member unarmed police force to southern Kyrgyzstan to monitor the fragile peace after ethnic clashes there last month.

At least 300 people were killed in clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks and thousands of homes burned down in the main southern cities of Osh and Jalal-Abad last month.

"We have adopted a document … to dispatch to the regions of Osh and Jalal-Abad … a group which will consist of 52 policemen representing the OSCE member states," Herbert Salber, director of the OSCE Conflict Prevention Center, told reporters Friday.

Salber gave no precise time frame for the mission.

He said the OSCE police group could be expanded to 102 members if needed. "The group … will work with the population in a bid to restore and, if possible, consolidate trust between people," he said. "This is the most important task."

Salber was speaking during an informal meeting of foreign ministers of the OSCE member states held in Kazakhstan's financial capital, Almaty. The country holds the rotating chairmanship of the organization this year.

OSCE Secretary-General Marc Perrin de Brichambaut said in an interview that OSCE policemen would work closely with their Kyrgyz colleagues. The OSCE's permanent council, due to gather in Vienna next Thursday, will have to make a final decision on the deployment of the police force, he said.

"I think … it is fair to say that there are good chances that the permanent council will adopt this decision," he said.

Kyrgyzstan, whose President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was ousted by a bloody revolt in April and fled to Belarus, aims to build a parliamentary democracy in a region ruled by tough autocrats and which is also a route for Afghan opiate drugs flowing to Russia.

Russia has warned that an attempt to build a true popular democracy may bring only more chaos to the ethnically divided nation or even may end up in a power grab by Islamist extremists.

Kyrgyz interim leader Roza Otunbayeva argues, however, that parliamentary democracy will rid Kyrgyzstan of the political and clan rivalries that have dogged the nation since it gained independence following the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The country has experienced two revolutions since then.

Kyrgyzstan first asked the Moscow-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization to send troops, but the request was first turned down. A group of less than 10 unarmed CSTO observers was sent to southern Kyrgyzstan later.