BISHKEK. The Kyrgyzstan Peoples' Kurultai (Congress), a gathering which united both pro-government and moderate opposition forces, was held today in Bishkek. It was entitled as "Peace and Stability in the Kyrgyz Statehood Year". About 608 out of the invited 640 representatives of Kyrgyzstan's political parties, NGOs, minorities, local communities and regional authorities participated in the gathering. President Askar Akayev told the delegates of the main events that occurred during the post-Soviet years of independence. According to him, the celebration of 1,000 anniversary of the epic "Manas" (1995), the Global Mountain Summit (2002) and other events were the most important events in Kyrgyzstan's modern history. The Congress approved the planning of events devoted to the 2200th anniversary of the Kyrgyz statehood. The jubilee is supported by the UN and UNESCO and several countries.
Several opposition parties refused to participate at the Congress. Instead, they organized an alternate meeting.
Melis Eshimkanov, the leader of the moderate opposition Popular (El) Party, gave a speech at the Congress. He told the meeting's participants that it is not time to be opposing to each other, it is time to be united in fighting poverty, corruption and international terrorism.
His speech on behalf of the National Congress, an opposition bloc of four parties, was then criticized by the leader of the "Atameken" (Motherland) Socialist Party, lawmaker Omurbek Tekebayev, who said that nobody gave him permission to speak on behalf of the bloc. As Tekebayev put it, the National Congress decided not to participate at today's gathering.