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Kyrgyz Party Supporters On Hunger Strike Over Vote Dispute

BISHKEK -- Twelve supporters of the United Kyrgyzstan party have started a hunger strike in Bishkek, demanding the party be recognized as having garnered enough votes to enter parliament, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

United Kyrgyzstan activists told RFE/RL that the hunger strikers are women. The hunger strike is being held in the apartment of one of the protesters.

United Kyrgyzstan activists have been holding protests since October 13, the day after Kyrgyzstan Central Election Commission (CEC) chairman Akylbek Sariev announced that the party received votes from 4.84 percent of all registered voters, short of the minimum 5 percent required to enter parliament.

Meanwhile, United Kyrgyzstan officials claim that according to the CEC original announcement, 5 percent of total eligible voters is equal to 142,000 votes. United Kyrgyzstan officially received 145,455 votes.

But on October 12, the CEC stated that 5 percent of total eligible voters is actually equal to 149,000 votes. United Kyrgyzstan members and supporters denounced the discrepancy and said they suspect the total number of eligible voters was changed to keep their party out of the parliament.

United Kyrgyzstan representatives told RFE/RL the protests will continue until the party's deputies receive their parliament mandates.

International election-monitoring organizations and foreign governments assessed the election as free and fair, the first time parliamentary elections in Central Asia have received such a positive rating.