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Kyrgyz Opposition Protests Against Parliamentary Election Results, Citing Alleged Fraud


Opposition supporters rally in Bishkek on November 29.
Opposition supporters rally in Bishkek on November 29.

BISHKEK -- The Kyrgyz authorities have pledged to "do our best" to prove the validity of the recent parliamentary elections as opposition leaders continue to call for the results of the November 28 contest to be annulled after technical difficulties appeared to have affected the vote count.

President Sadyr Japarov said after meeting with election monitors from the Russian-led Commonwealth of Independent States on November 29 that his office was ready to cooperate closely with all political forces "so that our citizens and the international community do not doubt the legitimacy of the election results."

The comments came as Japarov tries to avoid a full-blown political crisis after opposition parties objected to pro-government parties winning the preliminary count while several opposition parties that appeared to be on track to pass the 5 percent threshold ultimately failed to enter parliament.

According to updated preliminary results announced on November 29, three pro-government parties entered parliament: the Ata-Jurt party with 16.4 percent of the vote, the Ishenim (Trust) party with 13 percent, and the Yntymak (Harmony) party with 10.6 percent.

Three other parties were expected to take parliamentary seats -- the new Alyans (Alliance) with 8 percent, the opposition Butun (United) Kyrgyzstan with 6.5 percent, and Yiman Nuru (Ray of Faith) with 5.9 percent.

Four opposition parties -- Ata-Meken, Azattyk (Liberty), Social Democrats, and Uluttar Birimdigi -- failed to pass 5 percent threshold.

The elections were held under a mixed electoral system, with 54 parliamentary seats out of 90 being selected from open party lists in one nationwide constituency.

Voting Machine Malfunctions, Record Low Turnout In Kyrgyz Parliamentary Elections
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Dozens of opposition supporters rallied in the center of the Kyrgyz capital on November 29, accusing the Central Election Commission (BShK) of fraud and demanding a new election.

Many protesters raised concerns after alleged technical problems caused a tabulation monitor at the BShK to suddenly show that several opposition parties had fallen below the 5 percent barrier.

Turat Akimov, who ran for Uluttar Birimdigi (Unity of Ethnicities), one of the opposition parties that failed to enter parliament, told RFE/RL that the glitch raised serious doubts.

"Everything rests on a seemingly simple situation: During the counting process the server suddenly turned off for no reason. But the [opposition] parties lost their votes -- and some of them lost 25 to 30 percent of the ballots in their favor," Akimov claimed.

"This is what raises great doubts, especially since the authorities themselves cannot explain the reason for what happened."

BShK Chairwoman Nurjan Shaildabekova and her team told the demonstrators that the malfunction only occurred on the data display, and not the counting system itself, and did not affect the results.

BShK member Kairat Mamatov told RFE/RL on November 29 that the commission's information system was being investigated by IT specialists from the National Security Committee and other agencies.

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 voting was generally "well organized."

However, he added, "significant procedural problems were noted during the vote count and the initial stages of tabulation."

As of the evening of November 29, just under 20 percent of the vote had been counted by hand as the authorities worked to confirm the results.

But Omurbek Tekebaev, leader of the opposition Ata-Meken (Fatherland) party, said that the results needed to be annulled regardless, because there were problems with the hand-counting process in addition to the technical glitch.

"We need to annul the election results and call a new election," Tekerbaev said. "Of course, it will cost a lot of money. But it is necessary to maintain stability."

In its preliminary assessment, the joint observation mission led by the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) said the vote featured "a wide range of political options" but was hindered by “constitutional changes weakening parliament, subsequent extensive legislative changes to key aspects of the elections, a stifled campaign, and overall voter disillusionment."

In two Bishkek districts, most of the voters chose none of the parties and candidates, prompting election authorities to announce a new vote in these two districts.

Kyrgyzstan adopted a new constitution in a referendum in April that lowered the number of seats in parliament from 120 to 90 and changed the system of voting for candidates, with 54 seats being selected by party list and the remaining 36 in single-mandate districts.

The elections were a repeat of the failed parliamentary vote held in October 2020 that was quickly annulled by the BShK amid chaotic protests over alleged campaign violations and unfair voting practices.

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

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

With reporting by TASS and Interfax
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