Polls have opened in Kyrgyzstan for historic elections to choose a new, empowered parliament that the government hopes will usher in a new era of democracy.
Today's vote in the former Soviet state comes after an exhausting year of political turbulence and ethnic violence in the south. Security has been tightened for the vote in the Central Asian nation to prevent any possible unrest.
President Roza Otunbayeva says the elections will be held in a spirit of fairness and transparency. Kyrgyzstan hosts a strategically vital US air base near Afghanistan and is set to embrace a parliamentary system of governance.
This marks a sharp departure from the strongman model under President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who was ousted in April amid violent demonstrations.