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Kyrgyz President Says Malfunction Didn't Affect Election Outcome, As Opposition Parties Cry Foul

Counting votes in Osh on November 28.
Counting votes in Osh on November 28.

BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov says the State Committee for National Security (UKMK) is investigating a malfunction during ballot counting in a weekend parliamentary vote, but rejected calls from several opposition parties for fresh elections.

At issue is a glitch during the counting in which technical problems caused a tabulation monitor at the BShK to suddenly show that several opposition parties had fallen below the 5 percent barrier needed to gain entrance to parliament.

Four opposition parties have since cried foul, with some saying the glitch has thrown into doubt the credibility of the elections, which were a repeat of a failed parliamentary vote held in October 2020 that was quickly annulled by the Central Election Commission (BShK) amid chaotic protests over alleged campaign violations and unfair voting practices.

The BShK said on November 30 that the malfunction was caused by technical mistake made by a commission employee, did not affect actual data on the system server, and was quickly fixed.

It added that there is no reason to doubt the election results, a statement Japarov backed, saying that the authorities had not interfered in the election process.

“BShK experts have once again clarified that the error has nothing to do with the server. The results provided by the server have nothing to do with the error made by the specialist," Japarov said, noting a hand count of all ballots was still taking place.

"Yes, the mistake of a BShK specialist is a shortcoming in the system. However, it has had no effect on the results of the vote count. We will bring the guilty party to justice," Japarov added.

Danish politician Peter Juel-Jensen, the special coordinator and leader of the short-term OSCE observer mission, said on November 29 that the Western election watchdog had assessed that the elections were "competitive" and that voting was generally "well organized." However, he added, "significant procedural problems were noted during the vote count and the initial stages of tabulation."

Meanwhile, opposition parties Ata-Meken (Homeland), Azattyk (Liberty), Social Democrats, and Uluttar Birimdigi (Union of Nationalities), all of whom failed to get at least 5 percent of the vote to get seats in parliament, continued to demand on November 30 that new elections be held.

BShK Chairwoman Nurjan Shaildabekova told RFE/RL that the electronically collected data is preliminary and dooes not have any legal power.

The BShK said that by 3:30 p.m. on November 30, 24.66 percent of votes had been counted by hand and that seven political parties had managed to pass the 5 percent threshold to get seats in parliament.

Three are pro-government political parties -- Ata-Jurt (Fatherland) Kyrgyzstan with 13.88 percent, Yntymak (Harmony) with 13.64 percent, and Ishenim (Trust) with 11.45 percent.

In addition, three parties affiliated neither with the government nor the opposition -- Yiman Nuru (Ray of the Faith) with 7.92 percent, Alyans (Alliance) with 7.04 percent, and El Umutu (People's Hope) with 6.32 percent, -- were above the threshold. An opposition party, Butun (United) Kyrgyzstan, came in with 5.10 percent.

Street protests have sparked government ousters three times in the past two decades, including after disputed parliamentary elections last year that swept Japarov to power after he was sprung from prison.

Japarov organized a presidential election and concurrent referendum that changed the constitution to grant more power to the presidency in a move critics say amounted to a power grab.

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