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Parties Protest New Voting Threshold In Kyrgyzstan


http://gdb.rferl.org/A125CFF0-3201-4C14-97C1-307A7F620367_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/A125CFF0-3201-4C14-97C1-307A7F620367_mw800_mh600.jpg The elections follow a new constitution signed by President Kurmanbek Bakiev in October (AFP) November 21, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Concern is being raised in Kyrgyzstan over a requirement that political parties must pass a certain threshold in each of the country's seven regions in order to win parliament seats in elections next month.


Kyrgyzstan's first parliamentary elections based on party lists are set for December 16 after a new constitution and laws were passed in an October referendum.


These are the first parliamentary elections since President Askar Akaev was ousted in the Tulip Revolution in March 2005.


The Central Election Commission has ruled that according to the new election law, parties must get at least 13,500 votes, or 0.5 percent of the overall total of registered voters nationwide, in each of the country's seven provinces and two biggest cities, Bishkek and Osh -- a rule meant to prevent regional parties from making it into the national parliament.


This requirement is in addition to the 5 percent of the votes parties must receive nationwide in order to gain representation in parliament.


Speaking on November 19, Central Election Commission Chairwoman Klara Kabilova said the "0.5 percent" requirement is needed to "consolidate and strengthen the role of political parties."


But in a joint address to President Kurmanbek Bakiev, 11 opposition parties have urged him to abolish the regional election threshold, saying it's against the constitution and regional interests.


"We appeal [to the president] as the guarantor of the constitution to cancel the illegal decision by the Central Election Commission," Kubatbek Baibolov, a member of the opposition Atameken (Fatherland) party, told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service. "If he does not take any decision by tomorrow evening [November 21], then we have decided to meet again tomorrow evening in order to consider further actions. The actions might be of any kind. There could be a boycott of [parliamentary elections]. There could be rallies."


Meanwhile, the Civil Committee for Voter Rights Protection called the requirement a "serious obstacle" for parties to enter parliament. The committee was set up on November 14 by several nongovernmental organizations to protect voters' rights.


In a November 20 statement, the group said there was a "real danger" that the requirement may lead to "new conflicts among the population." It said the requirement prevented citizens from having equal access to the process of making governmental decisions and running the country.


A total of 22 parties have applied for registration to participate in the vote. Campaigning is officially due to start on November 26.

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