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Kyrgyz Police Try To Block Election Protest March


Opposition leader Almazbek Atambaev has refused to accept the election result.

Opposition leader Almazbek Atambaev has refused to accept the election result.

BISHKEK (Reuters) -- Police in Kyrgyzstan have clashed with opposition protesters as activists marched through the capital in protest against last week's presidential election, which they say was rigged.

Russia and the United States are worried that opposition anger over the July 23 vote could spill over into broader unrest in the small ex-Soviet republic in Central Asia, where both maintain military air bases.

Waving flags and shouting "Justice!", about 50 protesters marched through Bishkek but were intercepted by the police who scuffled with activists and tried to snatch away their banners.

A few activists were arrested and dragged away but participants continued to press on with their march towards the center of town, a Reuters correspondent at the scene said.

The opposition has vowed to stage more protests across the Muslim nation following the election, won by President Kurmanbek Bakiev with 76 percent of the vote.

Opposition challenger Almazbek Atambaev got 8 percent and said the election was fraudulent. In a move that has galvanized the opposition, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has also criticized the vote, saying its monitors witnessed widespread cases of ballot-box stuffing and multiple voting.
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