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Presidential Candidates Start Campaigning In Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev is constitutionally barred from running for a second term, though critics fear he is trying to continue in power.

BISHKEK -- Presidential candidates in Kyrgyzstan have started introducing voters to their programs after the campaign officially started on September 10.

On September 11, the candidate of the Onuguu-Progress party, Bakyt Torobaev announced his program -- saying Kyrgyzstan needed to make clear whether it has a presidential or a parliamentary system of government.

He also said he would back referendums on whether to reduce the number of lawmakers in parliament from 120 to 75 and whether to introduce the death penalty for convicted pedophiles.

On September 10, Respublika party candidate Omurbek Babanov and Ak-Shumkar (White Falcon) party candidate Temir Sariev announced their programs.

Babanov and Sariev are considered to be the two leading candidates.

Social Democratic Party candidate Sooronbai Jeenbekov, whom the outgoing President Almazbek Atambaev has publicly supported, began holding meetings with voters outside of Bishkek on September 10.

A total of 13 candidates have been registered for the October 15 presidential vote.

There is one woman contesting the vote, independent candidate Toktaiym Umotalieva.

Atambaev, who has been president since December 2011, is constitutionally barred from running for a second term.

Critics say he is looking for ways to maintain influence after he leaves office.

Controversy has been cast over the election by the August 16 conviction on bribery charges of opposition politician Omurbek Tekebaev, a former ally of Atambaev.

Tekebaev's Ata-Meken (Fatherland) party says the charges were aimed at preventing him from trying to seek the presidency.

Tekebaev was sentenced to eight years in prison, a ruling that bars him from running in the upcoming election and the following presidential vote that is scheduled for 2023.