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Kyrgyz Opposition Rally Disperses

8 January 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Kyrgyz opposition activists dispersed peacefully today after police seized tents they had set up in front of the parliament in Bishkek.

About 100 protesters gathered to press for free and fair parliamentary elections next month. They also urged electoral authorities to accept former foreign minister and current opposition leader Roza Otunbaeva's registration to be a candidate.

Participants say they will continue the rally tomorrow.

On Thursday, an election commission in Bishkek initially accepted the registration forms for Otunbaeva, who is a co-chair of the opposition Ata-Zhurt movement.

Later, however, officials withdrew her registration. They cited the lack of a quorum when the commission voted, as well as an election law that says former diplomats must have lived in Kyrgyzstan for up to five years before running.

Otunbaeva, who participated in today's protest, claims the move is politically motivated.

Also today, a Kyrgyz court rejected an appeal by former diplomat Medetkan Sherimkulov, who was refused the right to register as an opposition candidate last month.

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