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Dispute Dogs Kyrgyz Poll Ahead Of Results Announcement


Opposition supporters like these were quick to come out on election day, but have mostly been quiet in the three days since the July 23 poll.
Opposition leaders in Kyrgyzstan were threatening major street protests and maintaining that they won the July 23 presidential election ahead of an expected official announcement that incumbent Kurmanbek Bakiev was reelected in a landslide.

Electoral authorities said final results from the six-candidate contest would be announced on July 27.

Senior election officials have already said Bakiev, who rode to power following the so-called Tulip Revolution in 2005, won a second five-year term.

But former prime minister and rival candidate Almazbek Atambaev has claimed massive fraud and cited exit polls by opposition monitors that he says suggest he was the actual winner.

"We conducted a parallel vote count as promised," Atambaev told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service, saying his campaign's vote count had been completed earlier in the day. "According to those results, more than 60 percent voted for the united opposition's candidate, Almazbek Atambaev, and some 25 percent [voted] for the incumbent president."

Preliminary official results put Bakiev's support at over 82 percent and Atambaev at just 8 percent, with the other candidates trailing well behind.

Stoking Protests

Atambaev said the opposition plans to hold peaceful, nationwide demonstrations in the coming days to demand a repeat vote.

Atambaev announced his withdrawal while polls were still open on July 23.
"We have many documents and other material to prove [allegations of election fraud] and that's why people are angry," Atambaev told RFE/RL. "People voted for another person, but some thieves came and are announcing themselves president. People have been calling me about it since election day so, after discussions with people from different regions, we have decided to stage peaceful demonstrations and rallies all over Kyrgyzstan starting at 10 a.m. on July 29."

Atambaev's call for protests on election day -- when he said he was withdrawing from the race due to irregularities -- and the following day failed to gain much traction.

On July 25, Atambaev's campaign staff made public video recordings that they claimed show a group of men being taken from one polling station to another in order to vote multiple times.

Kyrgyz election officials confirmed they have received copies of the footage and authorities have sent the recordings to prosecutors for investigation.

The Central Election Commission said it does not recognize as valid the results of the vote in polling stations where the multiple voting allegedly took place.

President Bakiev has not appeared publicly since election day and has not commented officially on fraud allegations.

Monitors' Complaints

Kyrgyzstan's own local independent monitors said government officials were behind many of the alleged violations that took place during the voting and vote count.

But there has been harsh international criticism of the vote from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the European Union.

OSCE election monitors reported ballot-box stuffing and multiple voting, among other irregularities. In a preliminary assessment one day after the vote, they said the election "again fell short of key standards Kyrgyzstan has committed to."

The European Union's Swedish presidency has said it shares the OSCE's concern.

But an observer mission from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) praised the elections as "open and free."

written by RFE/RL correspondent Farangis Najibullah in Prague based on reporting by RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service and wire reports