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Protesters March On Bishkek Before Runoff

12 March 2005 -- Dozens of people in Kyrgyzstan are marching to Bishkek in protest of alleged irregularities in the first-round of parliamentary elections, as the country prepares for a runoff vote tomorrow.

Protesters marching from the Naryn region blocked a highway yesterday in the Chui region, near the capital. There were also protests reported yesterday in the Osh, Jalal-Abad, and Naryn provinces.

Osh regional Governor Kubanych Joldoshev admitted to protesters in the southern city of Osh yesterday that there had been polling "shortcomings" in the 27 February poll. He vowed to investigate any irregularities.

"We had shortcomings in those places where there are [rallies and] appeals going on. They were shortcomings of the heads of district administrations. It was my mistake as well. We have to confess that. The local electoral commissions also had made mistakes there," Joldoshev said.

Several protest leaders said they will ignore Joldoshev's request that they return home and participate in tomorrow's runoff. The poll is to choose more than half the places in the 75-seat parliament where no candidate won a clear majority in the first round.