State of emergency in Kyrgyzstan as troops deployed amid growing unrest

Protesters rally in the central square in Bishkek on Wednesday.

Bishkek, KyrgyzstanKyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov declared a state of emergency in the capital Bishkek on Friday and ordered troops to deploy, as supporters of rival political groups took to the streets after days of unrest following an overturned election.

A Reuters journalist in the capital heard gunshots and saw demonstrators from rival groups throwing rocks and bottles at each other and scuffling. One of the groups scattered, averting further violence, and there appeared to be no fatalities.
Jeenbekov's office said in a statement the state of emergency, which includes a curfew and tight security restrictions, would be in effect from 8 p.m. on Friday until 8 a.m. on October 21.
    His 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.
    Earlier the president had said he was ready to resign once a new cabinet was appointed.
    The country has seen a power vacuum, with opposition groups quarrelling among themselves since seizing government buildings and forcing the cancellation of results from Sunday's parliamentary election.
    Opposition supporters seized government buildings and demanded a new vote after widespread claims of vote-rigging in the parliamentary election.
    Two leading opposition figures reached an agreement to join forces on Friday, and won the backing of Jeenbekov's predecessor as president, Almazbek Atambayev. But their followers and followers of other groups held rival rallies, which politicians said posed a danger of violence.
    Russia has described the situation in Kyrgyzstan, which borders China and hosts a Russian military base, as "a mess 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 which represent clan interests in a country that has already seen two presidents toppled by popular revolts since 2005.
    Rival candidates for the premiership Omurbek Babanov and Tilek Toktogaziyev joined forces on Friday, with Toktogaziyev agreeing to serve as Babanov's deputy. They were backed by four parties, local news website 24.kz reported.
    Protesters lit a bonfire in front of the seized main government building, known as the White House, on October 6.