Kyrgyz president declares state of emergency amid protests

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People protest during a rally against the results of a parliamentary vote in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020. Large crowds of people have gathered in the center of Kyrgyzstan's capital to protest against the results of a parliamentary election, early results of which gave the majority of seats to two parties with ties to the ruling elites amid allegations of vote buying. (AP Photo/Vladimir Voronin)

MOSCOW – The embattled president of Kyrgyzstan ordered a nearly two-week state of emergency Friday in the capital in a bid to end turmoil sparked by a disputed parliamentary election as clashes between rival factions escalated and gunshots were fired at several political leaders.

President Sooronbai Jeenbekov decreed that the state of emergency, from 8 p.m. Friday through 8 a.m. on Oct. 21, could include a curfew and travel restrictions. He also ordered the military to deploy troops to Bishkek, the capital, to enforce the measure.

“We are witnessing a real threat to the existence of our state,” Jeenbekov said in a statement. "The peaceful life of our citizens mustn't be sacrificed to political passions.”

But just hours after the presidential decree, the Interior Ministry said the state of emergency in the capital would only be introduced on Saturday — the confusion reflecting the chaos that has engulfed the country.

Convoys of military trucks were seen driving into the city, but it wasn't immediately clear whether police and the military would comply with the presidential order.

Jeenbekov has faced calls to step down from hundreds of protesters who stormed government buildings the night after Sunday's parliamentary vote was reportedly swept by pro-government parties. The demonstrators also freed former President Almazbek Atambayev, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison in June on charges of corruption and abuse of office that he and his supporters described as a political vendetta by Jeenbekov.

The turmoil marks a third time in 15 years that protesters have moved to topple a government in Kyrgyzstan, a Central Asian nation of 6.5 million that is one of the poorest to emerge from the former Soviet Union.

Like in the uprisings that ousted Kyrgyz presidents in 2005 and 2010, the current protests have been driven by clan rivalries that play a key role in the country's politics.