President of Kyrgyzstan declares state of emergency and orders troops in Bishkek


A Reuters reporter in the capital heard gunshots and saw protesters from rival groups throwing stones and bottles at each other and fighting. One of the groups dispersed, avoiding further violence, and there appeared to be no deaths.

Jeenbekov’s office said in a statement that the state of emergency, which includes a curfew and strict security restrictions, would be in effect from 8 p.m. on Friday until 8 a.m. on October 21.

His order did not specify how many soldiers would be deployed, but they were instructed to use military vehicles, set up checkpoints and prevent armed clashes.

Previously, the president had said he was ready to step down once a new cabinet was appointed.

The country has experienced a power vacuum, with opposition groups arguing among themselves since the seizure of government buildings and the force of the overturning of Sunday’s parliamentary election results.

On Friday, two prominent opposition figures reached an agreement to join forces and secured the support of Jeenbekov’s predecessor as president, Almazbek Atambayev. But their supporters and those of other groups staged rival rallies, which politicians said posed a danger of violence.

Russia described the situation in Kyrgyzstan, which borders China and is home to a Russian military base, as “disorder and chaos.”

The crisis tests the Kremlin’s power to shape politics in its former Soviet sphere of influence, at a time when fighting has erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and Belarus is also engulfed in protests .

The opposition is divided between 11 parties that represent the interests of the clan in a country that has already seen two presidents overthrown in popular revolts since 2005.

Rival candidates for the post of Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov and Tilek Toktogaziyev joined forces on Friday, with Toktogaziyev agreeing to be Babanov’s deputy. They were supported by four parties, local news site reported.

Protesters lit a bonfire outside the seized main government building, known as the White House, on October 6.

They were joined at a rally in Bishkek by former President Atambayev. A few thousand fans chanted “I’m not afraid” and “Kyrgyzstan” to the rhythm of the big drums.

Supporters of another candidate, Sadyr Zhaparov, also numbering a few thousand, staged a protest nearby. Some Zhaparov supporters then rushed into the square, leading to scuffles between the rival groups until the Babanov and Toktogaziyev supporters withdrew.

Several other opposition parties had yet to make their positions known.

Jeenbekov’s allies swept Sunday’s parliamentary vote into the official results which have now been rejected. They kept a low profile as opposition parties took to the streets. Western observers said the election was marred by credible allegations of vote-buying.

Until now, the veterans who supported the revolt controlled the security forces. On Friday, the self-proclaimed provisional chiefs of the Interior Ministry and the state security service left their respective buildings and handed over the leadership to their deputies. Both state organs said the move was aimed at ensuring that the security forces remained apolitical.


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