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Archive for Monday, July 11, 2005

Interim Kyrgyzstan leader has strong lead in election

July 11, 2005

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— Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who took over the interim leadership of Kyrgyzstan when its president fled an uprising three months ago, headed to an overwhelming victory in presidential elections, according to results released today.

Bakiyev, now the country's acting president, had been the favorite among six candidates in Kyrgyzstan, which is of strategic importance for both Washington and Moscow.

With 70 percent of the vote counted, Bakiyev had received nearly 89 percent support, giving him an insurmountable lead over five challengers, according to figures posted on the Central Elections Commission Web site.

Despite temperatures that soared to around 104 degrees in the capital, Bishkek, the Central Elections Commission said more than 74 percent of the country's 2.6 million eligible voters had cast ballots Sunday - passing the 50 percent threshold required to make the election valid.

Political activity in Kyrgyzstan has mostly been on hold since March 24, when protests over allegedly manipulated parliamentary elections led to demonstrators storming the presidential offices in Bishkek.

Bakiyev, a former prime minister turned Akayev opponent, became acting president the next day. He has since spent much of his efforts trying to cool political tensions, but has been criticized for failing to set forth definitive policies.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe sent some 300 monitors, and planned to issue a preliminary report on the election today.

If the election is called free and fair, that could encourage nascent pro-democracy forces in Kyrgyzstan's authoritarian neighbor states. The country borders China, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

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