Akayev, who had earlier rejected opposition demands to step down or cancel the results of a parliamentary election that his opponents say was rigged, appointed a new interior minister and prosecutor-general on Wednesday without giving reasons.

His decision comes as the opposition stepped up its protests to press for his ouster, with activists seizing another administrative building in the southern town of Pulgon on Tuesday night.

Protesters earlier this week took control of the regional administrations in Osh and Jalal-Abad, the seats of two of the Central Asian nation's seven administrative regions.

More protests

Opposition spokesman in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek, Narynbek Kasymov, said about 600 protesters peacefully took control of the building, and that police had gone over to their side.

Interior Ministry spokesman Nurdin Zhangarayev, putting the number of protesters at 300, confirmed the seizure of the building, but said he did not know whether any of them were armed.

The protests began after the first round of parliamentary elections on 27 February and swelled after the 13 March run-offs that the opposition and the Organisation for
Security and Cooperation in Europe said were seriously flawed.