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Kyrgyz Ex-Hopeful For President To Lead Opposition

Almazbek Atambaev
Almazbek Atambaev
BISHKEK -- The leader of Kyrgyzstan's Social Democratic Party, Almazbek Atambaev, has been elected to chair the opposition United People's Movement (OND), RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Atambaev, a former prime minister, was the main challenger to President Kurmanbek Bakiev in the controversial July 23 presidential election, which Bakiev won handily according to official figures.

Atambaev and another candidate withdrew from the race on election day, claiming widespread fraud. He has been widely criticized for not remaining in the race.

OND activist Azimbek Beknazarov told RFE/RL that the selection of Atambaev as the movement's chairman was made at a gathering of the OND's political council in Bishkek.

Beknazarov says the meeting's participants discussed ways to consolidate political forces in the country and create a single, more inclusive political party.

Disunity among the Kyrgyz opposition has been blamed for its weakness in challenging Bakiev's ruling Ak-Zhol Party.