BishkekOpposition groups took control of most of Kyrgyzstan's government apparatus on Tuesday after storming buildings during post-election protests, but the president clung to power as unrest risked tipping the Central Asian state into chaos.
Opposition in Kyrgyzstan claims power after storming government buildings
Protests spread throughout the country, where two presidents have been overthrown in the past 15 years, halting some foreign gold mining operations and prompting an expression of concern from Russia, a longtime ally.
President Sooronbai Jeenbekov called for calm and ordered security forces not to open fire on protesters after unrest in which one person had been killed and 686 wounded by Tuesday afternoon, according to the health ministry.
Officials said Sunday's parliamentary election, which protesters condemned as illegitimate, would be rerun, while the opposition took charge of the key post of parliament speaker.
Fresh clashes remained a serious risk however, as protesters stayed on the streets and a crowd armed with rocks and stones broke into a hotel where members of parliament had convened, forcing the newly proposed interim prime minister, an opposition figure, to flee, according to a report by news website Akipress.
Shop owners in the capital Bishkek, fearing looting, installed metal shields against marauders.
Burnt-out cars littered the city after protesters stormed the main government building, known as the White House, early on Tuesday. It briefly caught fire before emergency services put out the blaze and debris from inside, including government papers, and office furniture, was strewn outside.
Kyrgyzstan, which borders China, has long been a platform for geopolitical competition between Moscow, Washington and Beijing. It houses a Russian military base and its leaders and main opposition groups have traditionally backed close ties with Russia.
Yet unidentified intruders torched a Russian-operated factory at Kyrgyzstan's second-largest gold deposit Jeruy on Tuesday, forcing its owners to suspend development of the site.
Russia's military base was put on high alert.