Tense situation

Al Jazeera's Robin Forestier-Walker, reporting from near Bakiyev's home in the village of Teyyit, said the president appeared ready to defend himself with his armed bodyguards.

"The president insists if they come to take him, their will be bloodshed. He insists he would not go quietly," he said.

"He's surrounded by his closest bodyguards in body armour, with rifles and machine guns.

in depth


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  Interview: Kurmanbek Bakiyev




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  Bakiyev calls for protest probe

Roots of Kyrgyz uprising persist


Interview: Roza Otunbayeva


Opposition usurps power in Bishkek

  Kyrgyzstan: Central Asia keystone

"The situation is very tense. Taking the president by force is the last option for this government but they do not want Bakiyev or his closest sons and brothers to walk away from this."

Roza Otunbayeva, the interim leader, told the Associated Press that her government would offer security if he steps down and leaves the country.

But there was no such offer for his family.

"We will provide security guarantees which he's entitled to under the constitution," she said.

Bakiyev challenged the government to arrest him at a rally with supporters in Jalal'abad on Monday.

The interim administration seemed to have taken up the challenge with reports suggesting that a convoy of military vehicles was on its way to the region and that Bakiyev's immunity from arrest had been removed.

"We can see that the president does not want to step down voluntarily and instead is issuing calls for actions against the people," interim security minister Azimbek Beknazarov said on Tuesday.

"We have opened a criminal case against the former president. If he does not show up today after the rally we will hold an operation to detain him."

Kyrgyz society is strongly clan-based, but there are few signs that Bakiyev will gain enough support in his southern heartland to return to power.

US assessment

Meanwhile, the United States is sending a high-ranking diplomat to Kyrgyzstan to assess the situation in the country.

Robert Blake, the assistant secretary of state for south and central Asian affairs, said on Monday he would be heading to the region to meet representatives of the de facto government.

Blake said the US has offered support for Kyrgyz efforts "to stabilise their political and economic situation".

He said he had spoken with Otunbayeva, who agreed he should travel there "as soon as possible".

Otunbayeva leads a transitional government and has promised to produce a new constitution within six months.