Kyrgyz activists demand closure of US airbase

March 16th, 2012 - 12:00 am ICT by IANS  

Bishkek, March 15 (IANS) Social activists in Kyrgyzstan plan to block the entrance to a US airbase next week in a bid to demand its early closure, a media report said Thursday.

“We are going to block the entry to the American airbase, the Manas Transit Center, on March 24,” Nazarbek Nyshanov, a member of the New Forces of Kyrgyzstan, was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.

As the only US base in Central Asia, the Manas airfield, 23 km north of Bishkek, has been used since December 2001 as a transit point to support American troops in Afghanistan, Xinhua reported.

Activists have also launched a series of rallies outside the US embassy building in the capital, demanding the closure of Manas, the report said.

The New Forces of Kyrgyzstan has called on Kyrgyz authorities to start the process of denouncing the treaty with Washington and close the airbase within a month.

It also demanded compensation for environmental damage as well as the establishment of a commission to investigate the dumping of aviation fuel by US Air Force planes over Kyrgyz territory.

The activists also opposed using the country’s territory to launch strikes against Iran.

Pentagon chief Leon Panetta was recently in Bishkek for talks with the country’s Defence Minister Taalaybek Omuraliyev.

US ambassador to Kyrgyzstan Pamela Spratlen has said America was looking for a “sober discussion” on the future fate of the US base.

When Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev assumed his post last November, he said Kyrgyzstan would not prolong the lease with the US.

“There must be no foreign military contingent at the civil airport in Manas after the summer of 2014,” Atambayev reiterated in February.

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