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OUSTED PRESIDENT AGREES TO RESIGN

Ousted President Askar Akayev has agreed to resign without returning to the country, the parliament speaker said Saturday, signaling a major step toward easing the political uncertainty that has plagued the nation since the government was overthrown.

Akayev, who ruled the former Soviet republic for 15 years, fled to Russia last month after protesters stormed the presidential palace, angry over a parliamentary election they said was rigged.

"We have received a verbal agreement" from Akayev to sign his resignation letter outside the country rather than returning and stepping down during a session of parliament, as constitutionally required, the legislature's speaker Omurbek Tekebayev said Saturday.

The former opposition leaders now in power want him to formally step down to boost their legitimacy after the forceful takeover, which was marred by looting and sporadic violence.