Bakiyev, who came to power during the 2005 U.S.-backed Tulip Revolution, appeared briefly, sitting to the side by himself in front of a large TV screen and flag. He congratulated the parliament for "working very effectively."
Before the session began in earnest, the parliament's vice speaker went through a didactic exchange with the foreign minister to assure the audience that the government wasn't abandoning ties with the United States.
"Will we be turning our backs on democracy?" Cholpon Baekova asked.
Sarbayev answered that "Having democracy in Kyrgyzstan is the result of having a close relationship with the United States." With Thursday's vote, he said, "we are talking about our national interests."
Sarbayev also repeated the litany of complaints, chief among them the 2006 shooting death of a Kyrgyz driver at the base. American military officials said at the time that a soldier had shot the driver because he had a knife in his hand.
Recent comments by U.S. officials indicated that they were hoping Bakiyev's stance was just brinksmanship designed to hike up the rent.
Earlier this month, the U.S. spokesman in Afghanistan told the Associated Press that "I think it's political positioning. . . . We have a standing contract and they're making millions off our presence there."
The spokesman, Col. Greg Julian, pointed to the fact that Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of the U.S. Central Command, had just been in Bishkek.
When Petraeus was asked in a January news conference in Bishkek about reports that the government wanted to shut down the air base, he brushed the question aside, saying he'd received high-level assurances that that wasn't the case.
"It could be that there's a little bit of Central Asia negotiating going on here through the press," he said.
If so, most agree, it looks like the negotiations got a lot rougher Thursday.
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