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Demonstrators Occupy Provincial Office In Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyz police stand guard outside the provincial office in Osh 18 March 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Kyrgyz opposition demonstrators have occupied the main provincial office in Osh, in the latest protest at alleged irregularities in recent parliamentary elections.

Reports say several hundred protesters entered the building today during a rally. They used stones to break a window and slightly injured two police officers. Organizers said, however, there were no hostile clashes and that police and protesters dealt on friendly terms.

Since protesters occupied regional offices in Jalal-Abad on 4 March, takeovers and rallies have spread to Bishkek and at least six other towns.

The Kyrgyz opposition charges that the 13 March parliamentary runoff was rigged in favor of the government. They are calling for new elections.

Protester Orozbek Koksariev told RFE/RL today in Toktogul that minibuses were used to bring in outside voters for one candidate.

"We demanded that the results of the 13 March runoff be annulled. Also, the minibuses kept in the garage that were used to bring about 2,000 students from Bishkek by [pro-government candidate] Taiyrbek Sarpashev are to be investigated on the spot," Koksariev said.

Also today, organizers of an opposition people's congress, called Kurultai, say they have canceled a meeting scheduled for today in Talas because police closed the roads. They said they will convene the Kurultai in Osh tomorrow instead.

For more on the Kyrgyz elections, see RFE/RL's dedicated "Kyrgyzstan Votes 2005" webpage.

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