KYRGYZ opposition protesters read opposition newspapers in Jalalabad, 600 kms southeast of the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek on Wednesday 23 March 2005.
Kyrgystan's President Askar Akayev sacked his interior minister and prosecutor-general, as popular protests rock the country's cities. A presidential spokesman said the men were dismissed due to their "poor work" in dealing with the combustible situation.
The unrest was sparked by parliamentary elections earlier this year which the opposition said were rigged. But President Akayev has insisted the poll was valid, and on Tuesday he branded the protests a coup attempt.
"Opposition forces, financed from the outside, are seeking to bring about the collapse of our society," he said.
Addressing the newly elected parliament, he insisted that he "will not resign or annul the results of recent parliamentary elections. As far as resigning is concerned, only the people or parliament can make such a decision."
The Kyrgyz leader also accused the opposition of deliberately stoking tensions in the country, but ruled out imposing a state of emergency or using force to crush the protests.
A small group of protesters had gathered in the main square in the southern city of Osh, reiterating an opposition demand that Akayev should stand down.
Protesters are still occupying official buildings, the television station and the airport, and security forces have all but disappeared from the city centre.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns called upon the Kyrgyz government to begin without preliminary conditions a dialogue with opposition