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Kyrgyz Election Body Recognizes New Parliament

27 March 2005 -- Kyrgyzstan's Election Commission today gave its stamp of approval to the country's newly elected parliament, which met for a brief session in Bishkek.

But the commission said it will investigate cases of alleged fraud in individual voting districts, to see if some of the newly elected deputies should be disqualified.

Freed Kyrgyz opposition leader Felix Kulov today also gave his backing to the new parliament.

"Whether we like it or not, the new parliament should function," Kulov said. "My own position is that I don't like some of the deputies elected to the new parliament. But as a law-abiding citizen, I will respect the decisions of the new parliament. There is no other way."

Some members of the old parliament disagree. They say recent legislative elections were marred by fraud, casting doubt on the legitimacy of the new assembly.

Kulov today also said ousted President Askar Akaev must return to Bishkek and officially tell the nation that he is stepping down. Akaev's whereabouts are unknown. The Kremlin says Akaev has asked to come to Russia, where he is welcome.

Several hundred protesters supporting Akaev briefly blocked a main road linking his hometown today with the Kyrgyz capital.

(AP/RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service)