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Kyrgyz Lawmakers Debate Bill Restricting Election Observers' Rights

Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev
Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev

BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz lawmakers are considering a bill that nongovernmental organizations say restricts the rights of independent observers in elections in the Central Asian country.

The bill, which lawmakers debated on May 31 ahead of a third and final vote, would bar independent observers from taking part in sessions of election commissions and prohibit them from challenging the commissions' decisions in court.

Only observers representing political parties or candidates would be able to do so.

About a dozen activists representing nongovernmental organizations rallied in front of the parliament building on May 30, demanding that lawmakers abandon the bill.

Opponents of the legislation say independent observers must have a full-fledged right to take part in the election process and challenge decisions by election commissions.

Lawmakers are expected to approve the bill, and President Almazbek Atambaev is expected to sign it into law.

Kyrgyzstan is scheduled to hold a presidential election on October 15.

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