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Parties prepare for October vote in ex-Soviet Kyrgyzstan

Thirty-four parties have registered to contest Kyrgyzstan`s parliamentary polls on October 4, electoral officials in the former Soviet state said Monday.



Bishkek: Thirty-four parties have registered to contest Kyrgyzstan`s parliamentary polls on October 4, electoral officials in the former Soviet state said Monday.

The election will be a rare competitive vote in a region associated with entrenched authoritarian practices and long-serving presidents.

The perceived favourite is the Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan (SDPK), affiliated with pro-Russian President Almazbek Atambayev.

Other frontrunners are the four other parties in the 120-member parliament.

The deadline for the final registration is August 25 and parties can still drop out before their name is on the ballot sheet.

Campaigns -- officially scheduled to launch on September 4 -- will feature at least two north-south tandems as parties aim to bridge a regionally and ethnically divided country of six million.

Neighbouring Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan both held presidential elections in March and April respectively, while Tajikistan held a parliamentary vote in March. 

Yet of the central Asian nations, only Kyrgyzstan has held polls declared free and fair by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

The majority-Muslim secular republic has pursued a strongly pro-Russian foreign policy ever since a 2010 revolution unseated President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, an authoritarian leader who riled Moscow by doubling back on a decision to close a US military base in the country. 

The post-revolution government chose not to extend the basing agreement with Washington beyond 2014.

But Kyrgyzstan hosts a Russian military base and is on the cusp of entering the Eurasian Economic Union championed by Moscow. 

The country last month ripped up a long-standing cooperation accord with the United States following Washington`s decision to grant a rights award to jailed rights defender Azimjon Askarov. 

An ethnic Uzbek, Askarov was sentenced to life imprisonment for allegedly inciting clashes between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz during ethnic unrest in the south of the country in 2010.

From Zee News

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