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Protesters have called for President Akaev to resign (file photo) Bishkek, 15 March 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev today warned protesters who have seized government buildings amid dissatisfaction over parliamentary elections that they will be punished.

Speaking on national television, Akaev called the elections for the 75-seat parliament "the most important political event of the year." The runoff round of voting was held on 13 March.

But Akaev warned protesters who are occupying administration buildings in the western city of Talas and southern cities of Jalal-Abad and Uzgen.

"Those who have organized mass public disorder will be brought to justice for creating a tense situation in some regions. I urge our citizens in [the towns of] Talas, Jalal-Abad, and Uzgen to be tolerant and to act in accordance with wisdom," Akaev said.

Opposition protesters are holding a regional governor and another local official captive today at a government building in the Talas District.

The protesters are upset over alleged irregularities during the runoff as well as the results of the first round poll on 27 February.

Protesters in Talas won't let the two officials out of the building, demanding that poll results be reviewed in court. Talas police chief Nasreddin Karimberdivev says thousands of protesters are gathered outside the building.

The opposition accuses authorities of rigging the elections, which gave Akaev a loyal majority in parliament, with opposition candidates winning just a few seats.

Other protest rallies have taken place in Jalal-Abad, Osh, Toktogul, Kurshab, Alai, and Bakai-Ata.

U.S. Criticism

The U.S. State Department today criticized the elections and called on the Kyrgyz government to use peaceful means to quell protests.

State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said the United States shared the assessment of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) that Kyrgyzstan's elections did not meet international standards for a democratic poll.

"It certainly appears that there will be a solid pro-government majority in the parliament. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's preliminary assessment is that the second vote was marred by serious flaws. We share that assessment," Ereli said.

(RFE/RL and Agencies)

Related:

For in-depth coverage of Kyrgyzstan's elections, go to RFE/RL's dedicated webpage "Kyrgyzstan Votes 2005."

Fragmented Opposition Ponders Next Move After Election Defeat
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