Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov declared a state of emergency in the capital Bishkek on Friday and ordered the army to put an end to days of unrest, as supporters of rival political groups were fighting in the streets.
A reporter in the capital, Reuters, heard gunshots and saw protesters from rival groups throwing rocks and bottles at each other and suffocating. One opposition politician was reported to have been injured.
Jeenbekov 's office stated in a statement that the state of emergency, including a curfew and tight security restrictions, would be effective from 8 p.m. on Friday to 8 a.m. on October 21.
His order did not say how many troops would be deployed, but they were instructed to "take control of the situation" and use military vehicles, set up checkpoints, and prevent armed clashes.
Earlier, the president said he was ready to resign once a new cabinet had been appointed.
The country has seen a power vacuum, with opposition groups fighting each other since they seized government buildings and forced the cancelation of the results of Sunday's parliamentary elections, which they denounced as fraudulent.
Two leading opposition figures reached an agreement to join forces on Friday and won the backing of Jenbekov 's predecessor as President, Almazbek Atambayev. But their followers and followers of other groups held rival rallies, which politicians said posed a threat of violence.
Russia 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 the fighting has erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan and Belarus is also engulfed by protests.
The opposition is divided between 11 parties representing clan interests in a country that has seen two presidents overthrown by popular revolts since 2005.
Rival candidates for Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov and Tilek Toktogaziyev joined forces on Friday, with Toktogaziyev agreeing to serve as Babanov 's deputy. Four parties supported them, local news website 24.kz reported.
Former President Atambayev joined them at a rally in Bishkek. A few thousand followers sang "I'm not scared" and "Kyrgyzstan" at the rhythm of the big drums.
The followers of another candidate, Sadyr Zhaparov, who also numbered a few thousand, held a demonstration nearby. Some of Zhaparov 's supporters later rushed to the square, leading to scuffles between rival groups, until the supporters of Babanov and Toktogaziyev withdrew.
A video published by several Kyrgyz media showed that Toktogaziyev, apparently unconscious, was taken away from the square, and people around him screamed that he was wounded and took off his coat to reveal a bulletproof vest.
Separately, Atambayev 's aide said he had fired a shot at his car, which didn't hurt anyone.
Jeenbekov 's allies swept the parliamentary vote on Sunday in the official results that have now been discarded. They kept a low profile as the opposition parties took to the streets. Western observers said that the election was marred by credible allegations of vote-purchase.
So far, veteran officials who supported the revolt have been in charge of the security forces. On Friday, the Provisional Chiefs of the Interior Ministry and the State Security Service left their respective buildings and handed over the leadership to their deputies. The two-state bodies said the move was meant to ensure that the security forces remained apolitical.