BISHKEK -- More than three weeks after the people of Kyrgyzstan voted in parliamentary elections, the country's Central Election Commission has announced the results.
The head of the Central Election Commission, Akylbek Sariev, said five parties had won enough votes in the October 10 vote to enter parliament.
Ata-Jurt, a nationalist party that has strong support among ethnic Kyrgyz in the south, will have 28 of the 120 seats in parliament. The pro-government Social Democrats came in second with 26 seats. Ar-Namys had 25, Respublika 23, and Ata-Meken 18.
A number of losing parties have said they will challenge the results.Left Rudderless
The historic ballot was aimed at forming the first parliamentary democracy in Central Asia, a region traditionally ruled by presidents with near-absolute powers.
But confusion over the number of voters and claims of procedural irregularities have slowed the process and left the country largely rudderless only months after massive unrest led to the ouster of President Kurmanbek Bakiev and sparked fierce ethnic clashes in the country's south that left 400 people dead.
Sariev, presiding over a somber table of electoral officials, acknowledged that the vote count had been a long and difficult procedure, but sought to justify the commission's cautious approach to the hotly anticipated results.
Kamchybek Tashiev, the leader of Ata-Jurt
"Some have been waiting with excitement, some with worry," Sariev said, adding that he wanted to thank those who had not interfered with the vote count.
"We wanted to be able to do things in a way that was clear to everyone," he continued, "so that everyone knows what we were doing, and what kind of work we want to do in order to justify trust in us, and to demonstrate that there were reasons for the delay."
The five parties now have three days to announce their parliament delegates and -- with no party winning by a sizeable margin -- coalition agreements. Complaints Expected
Despite being the overall winner, Ata-Jurt -- led by Kamchybek Tashiev -- is expected to go into the minority, forming a coalition with the pro-Russian Ar-Namys party.
The remaining three parties -- the Social Democrats, Ata-Meken, and Respublika -- are expected to form the ruling coalition. The three have a combined 67 seats in the 120-seat parliament.
There had been expectations that a sixth party, Butun Kyrgyzstan (United Kyrgyzstan), would ultimately clear the 5 percent hurdle and join forces with Ata-Jurt and Ar-Namys, giving them the necessary majority to form the top coalition. Such a formation would likely cast immediate doubt on the future of the country's parliamentary democracy, which was initiated by interim leader Roza Otunbaeva and supported by figures like Social Democratic Party head Almazbek Atambaev.
Ata-Jurt and Ar-Namys have expressed skepticism about the shift, saying power in Kyrgyzstan should remain with the president, and were expected to push for a reversal if they achieved a ruling coalition. But it now appears likely those two parties will remain in the opposition.
Sariev announced today that Butun Kyrgyzstan, after numerous recounts, had failed to clear the barrier, taking just 4.6 percent of the vote. 'Blatant Violations'
The ruling, which was slowed by controversy over changes in the number of eligible voters, is certain to spark complaints.
Speaking to RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service after the announcement of the election results, party head Adakhan Madumarov accused election officials of tampering with the results. Madumarov, who enjoyed close ties to ousted leader Bakiev, suggested the interim government was nervous about handing the role of kingmaker to his party.
"We would like to stress that this election saw blatant violations of our constitution," Madumarov said. "They are currently not including Butun Kyrgyzstan in the parliament because of inconvenient questions regarding our party. We don’t recognize the election results."
It and the other 23 parties that failed to enter parliament have three days to register complaints. After the three-day period, however, if the courts do not find substantive reasons to block the process, the formation of the parliament is free to proceed.
The October 10 election was widely viewed as the cleanest in the history of independent Kyrgyzstan. But Sariev in recent days has blamed a "wave of mistakes" by local election officials for holding up the final tally.
The delay irritated the public and politicians alike, with the winning party, Ata-Jurt, staging near-daily protests demanding the results be announced.