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Kyrgyzstan: Akaev Re-Elected; Voting Irregularities Reported

Bishkek, 30 October 2000 (RFE/RL) - Kyrgyzstan's Central Election Commission says President Askar Akaev has been re-elected. Official results show Akaev won 74 percent of the vote in yesterday's poll. There were reports of irregularities in voting. The Central Election Commission said one ballot box was discovered with 700 fraudulent ballots for Akayev before the polls opened. Omurbek Tekebaev, deputy speaker of the upper house of parliament, was in second place with 13 percent and industrialist Almazbek Atambaev was third with 6 percent.

Some of Akaev's opponents accuse law enforcement authorities and election officials of harassing their supporters, party polling area monitors, and campaign staff.

The run-up to the vote was widely criticized as being unfair to opponents of Akaev. Former National Security Minister Feliks Kulov was barred from the poll after he refused to take the required Kyrgyz-language test. He said the test violated the rights of ethnic minorities. Kulov was considered to be Akaev's main challenger.

The opposition complained their election meetings had been disrupted and they had been refused access to state radio and television. Critics also accused the authorities of using the courts to exclude potential challengers from the race.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) expressed concerns about the registration process and the language exam, which ended the presidential ambitions of 13 of the 19 original candidates, including Kulov.