BISHKEK (Reuters) – Kyrgyzstan’s parliament was set to meet on Saturday and potentially vote in a new government to end a power vacuum in the strategically important Central Asian nation which has been gripped by unrest since a contested Oct. 4 election.
The former Soviet republic of 6.5 million hosts a Russian military airbase and serves as a hub for trade with neighbouring China. It is also home to a large Canadian-owned mining operation.
Military checkpoints were put up overnight around capital Bishkek and armoured personnel carriers were spotted in the city after President Sooronbai Jeenbekov ordered troops to deploy and re-establish order amid flare-ups of violence.
The parliament planned to gather in the presidential residence on the outskirts of Bishkek, after its own offices were ransacked by protesters who seized key government buildings on Tuesday.
Russia, which exerts significant influence on Kyrgyzstan, this week described the situation as “chaos”. More than 1,200 people have been injured and one person has been killed in street clashes since protests erupted on Monday.
It was unclear which candidates the legislature would consider for premiership, although deputy speaker Aida Kasymaliyeva urged MPs to reconsider the nomination of opposition politician Sadyr Zhaparov, saying that voting him in would only divide the country further.
Zhaparov’s supporters clashed with followers of a few other parties on Friday which nominated their own candidate, Omurbek Babanov. Several people were wounded including a politician nominated to serve as Babanov’s deputy.
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.
(Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov and Olga Dzyubenko; editing by Richard Pullin)