At least five people were injured Friday (October 9th) in violence between rival protesters in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, as the political crisis continues to worsen in the central Asian country.
Invisible for four days, the head of state, Soroonbai Jeenbekov, signed a decree imposing a state of emergency in the capital, but nothing says that it will be applied, several political clans having taken control of the various bodies government. On Friday evening, however, witnesses reported seeing military vehicles driving through Bishkek.
Kyrgyzstan has been plunged into a political storm since the outbreak of a protest movement against fraud in Sunday’s parliamentary elections, won by two parties close to the president. Opposing political groups, opposed to Mr Jeenbekov, are now vying for power.
Clashes between activists broke out in central Bishkek on Friday, on the sidelines of a demonstration organized by an opposition group representing several parties. The health ministry said at least five people were injured, including a prominent young politician, Tilek Toktagaziyev, who was hit by stones.
In a video posted on social media, former President Almazbek Atambayev claimed his car was shot in the clashes, while his supporters also staged a protest during the day. “The former president’s car was hit by live ammunition”, said his spokesperson, Koundouz Joldoubaïeva.
A former mentor of President Jeenbekov, who has become his arch rival, Atambayev was released from prison on Monday after a night of riots. He was serving an eleven-year prison sentence for having released a mafia boss from prison and was awaiting a second trial for his role in the armed resistance to his arrest.
The president says he is ready to resign
President Soroonbai Zheenbekov, who has not appeared in public since Monday, announced early Friday morning that he was ready to step down. “When legitimate authorities have been approved and we are back on the path to legality”.
The resignation could come after changes are made in the government and a date set for new elections, the presidency said in a statement. The first condition has been fulfilled, Mr Jeenbekov having signed a decree dismissing the government.
The clashes, including violent clashes between demonstrators and police on Monday, left one dead and more than a thousand injured. This crisis raises fears of an outbreak of violence in Kyrgyzstan, considered an island of pluralism in a region where authoritarian regimes are the rule.
On Friday, another demonstration was organized in Bishkek against organized crime, which plagues politics in the eyes of many Kirghiz. The day before, figures from opposition parties had claimed to control the prosecutor’s office or the interior ministry. No police presence was visible in front of the main government buildings.