Kyrgyzstan holds an election on Sunday that its leaders hope will unite the country – but which opponents fear could trigger violence and more Islamist extremism.
The aim is to create central Asia’s first parliamentary democracy – a tall order perhaps in a country plagued by political and ethnic divisions. In June the tension erupted into clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks killing 400 and making thousands homeless.
Interim leaders want a strong prime minister to unite the country. But there are fears the new model could expose the mountainous nation to further violence as rival factions struggle for power.
Amid a volatile atmosphere, one opposition party said its headquarters was attacked by up to 50 men, some drunk, who smashed up equipment and roughed up guards.
Neighbouring countries are watching nervously. Russia is suspicious of the new parliamentary model; China is also wary of mounting instability on its borders.