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Kyrgyzstan Nominates President For Reelection

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev
Kyrgyzstan's President Kurmanbek Bakiev was nominated by his party on May 1 for reelection in a July vote amid growing tensions with the opposition of the impoverished Central Asian state.

The opposition has accused authorities of clamping down on critics ahead of the presidential election, a charge which Bakiev has strongly denied.

In July's vote Bakiev will face opposition candidate Almazbek Atambaev, a former prime minister and ally.

"The decision has been made unanimously. Kurmanbek Bakiyev has been nominated as a candidate," Ak Zhol deputy chairman Avtandil Arabayev said at a party congress on May 1.

Bakiev came to power shortly after a disputed parliamentary election in 2005 triggered violent protests and forced long-serving leader Askar Akaev to flee the country.

Atambaev was one of Bakiev's staunch supporters but later switched sides, accusing Bakiev of corruption and running Kyrgyzstan like a personal fiefdom.

Russia and the West are watching Kyrgyzstan for any signs of unrest. The geographically strategic nation hosts a Russian air base and announced in February that it would close a U.S. base.