Kyrgyz president orders state of emergency in capital amid unrest

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Curfew, tight security restrictions to be in place until October 21, says president, amid political crisis.

Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov declared a state of emergency in the capital, Bishkek, on Friday as unrest gripped the Central Asian country.

A curfew and tight security restrictions would be in effect from 8pm local time on Friday until 8am on October 21.

Jeenbekov’s order did not say how many troops would be deployed but they were instructed to use military vehicles, set up checkpoints, and prevent armed clashes.

A disputed October 4 vote has sparked fresh turmoil, triggering protests and unrest that have killed at least one person and injured hundreds.

In Bishkek, protesters supporting police have faced off with anti-government crowds, leading to violence.

The news of the emergency rule came hours after Jeenbekov signed an order dismissing Prime Minister Kubatbek Boronov and his cabinet on Friday.

Jeenbekov also offered to resign on Friday in an address published on the presidential website, but only once a date for fresh elections had been set.

Opposition groups have quarrelled among themselves since seizing government buildings and forcing the cancellation of a disputed parliamentary election result this week.

They made a first step towards consolidation, raising hopes of an end to the crisis, but thousands of their followers took to the streets at rival rallies that posed a danger of violence.

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

The Central Asian nation has a history of political volatility – two of its presidents have been toppled by revolts in the past 15 years.

Russia has described the situation in Kyrgyzstan, which borders China and hosts a Russian military base, as “messy and chaotic”.

Moscow is a key foreign power with interests in Kyrgyzstan and has attempted to broker internecine disputes in the past. But it was unclear if the Kremlin could help stabilise a fluid situation in the republic.

Stanislav Zas, the secretary general of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Moscow-led security bloc, suggested that the bloc could play a “mediating role”.

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.

“This is an incredible turnaround of events here,” said Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, reporting from Bishkek.

“Seems like [Russian President] Vladimir Putin is very concerned about how the situation here could deteriorate. And it seems as if he’s reigned Jeenbekov in,” he said.

“Let’s not forget Russia has big interests here in Kyrgyzstan – geopolitically and in terms of investments.

“This is a country that buys Russian gas, Russian infrastructure. It is all maintained by Russia.”



Al Jazeera and News agencies

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