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Kyrgyz PM wins Presidency in disputed poll

Last Updated: Monday, October 31, 2011 - 13:25

Bishkek: Kyrgyzstan`s moderate Prime
Minister emerged on Monday as the next President of the
violence-scarred nation after a decisive election victory, but
his vanquished rivals claimed the ballot was rigged.

Almazbek Atambayev, a close ally of outgoing President
Roza Otunbayeva who took power after a 2010 uprising ousted
the regime of Kurmanbek Bakiyev, won 63 percent of the vote in
yesterday`s polls, the central election commission said.

The crushing victory over his two nationalist rivals --
who garnered less than 15 percent apiece -- gave Atambayev the
presidency without the need for a potentially tricky second
round.

Atambayev, 55, now faces the task of healing the wounds
of a divided nation that within the space of a year in 2010
endured the bloody revolution that ousted Bakiyev and horrific
inter-communal violence that killed some 470.

"According to the initial results, Almazbek Atambayev
has been elected the president of Kyrgyzstan," central
election commission chief Tuigunaly Abdraimov told reporters.

"There will be no second round. Atambayev won more than
half of the votes and we can say that he won in the first
round."

The future of the nation of 5.3 million is closely
watched by the West, which uses Kyrgyzstan as a hub for
transit operations for the campaign in Afghanistan. It is the
only country in the world to house US and Russian bases.

Kyrgyzstan is also the only nation in ex-Soviet Central
Asia, a region dominated by strongmen leaders who have clung
on to power for years, to hold keenly contested presidential
elections.

But Atambayev`s two leading rivals out of 15
challengers -- the one-time parliament speaker Adakhan
Madumarov and former boxer Kachimbek Tashiyev -- immediately
denounced the elections as a fraud and warned of protests.

The campaign team of Tashiyev accused the authorities
of "brazenly making up numbers that are far removed from
reality."

"We do not intend to recognise these elections,"
Tashiyev`s campaign office said.

The charismatic ex-speaker Madumarov also accused the
authorities of overseeing "unprecedented violations".

"If the election results are falsified, we will
definitely launch protest action," Madumarov said. "I will
defend the vote of each one of my supporters."

In the two decades since the fall of the Soviet Union,
Kyrgyzstan has not once had a peaceful transition of
presidential power.

The April 2010 uprising was the second for independent
Kyrgyzstan after the 2005 Tulip Revolution that ousted
post-Soviet leader Askar Akayev and installed Bakiyev in his
place.

In these tense circumstances, the conclusions of an
international observer mission, due to be announced at around
13:30 IST, will be closely watched to see if they give the
poll a relatively clean bill of health.

The central election commission chief Abdraimov
reported several isolated incidents of voting irregularities,
including attempts to stuff ballot boxes in certain regions,
but stressed these were small in scale.

"Results at certain precincts will probably be
annulled," Abdraimov said. "But these violations cannot affect
the results themselves."

In initial comments yesterday, the OSCE`s Office for
Democratic Institutions and Human Rights praised the choices
available to voters, but criticised imperfect registration
lists that had kept some people from voting.

Even the outgoing president`s own son Atay Sadybakasov
said he had been told he was not registered to vote at his
polling station.

According to the results based on 97 per cent of the
electoral precincts, Atambayev won 63.0 per cent, Madumarov
14.8 per cent and Tashiyev 14.3 per cent.

The south of Kyrgyzstan remains tense after the 2010
ethnic violence between the Kyrgyz majority and the Uzbek
minority communities that raised questions at the time about
its future viability as a nation.

On the eve of the vote, Human Rights Watch said a
priority for the new president was ensuring fair trials over
the 2010 unrest. It said the authorities were targeting Uzbeks
even though they had borne the brunt of the violence.

PTI

First Published: Monday, October 31, 2011 - 09:53
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