Kyrgyzstan PM Leads Presidential Vote

Posted October 31st, 2011 at 6:15 am (UTC-5)
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Kyrgyzstan's prime minister, Almazbek Atambayev, is poised to become president after taking a commanding lead in the country's first presidential election since last year's bloody uprising ousted the government.

International observers said that despite some flaws with voter lists and the tabulation process, they were cautiously optimistic about the future of democracy in Kyrgyzstan.

With about 99 percent of the votes counted, official results show Mr. Atambayev far ahead of 15 other candidates.

They include former boxer Kachimbek Tashiyev, whose campaign is accusing officials of fabricating the results. Other candidates are also complaining of irregularities, including people voting more than once, ballot box stuffing and authorities refusing to let voters register.

Kyrgyzstan hosts both U.S. and Russian military bases and is a crucial hub for NATO operations in Afghanistan. Some of the candidates have promised to respect the U.S. base lease, which expires in 2014.

Sunday's election comes a year after nationwide protests against corruption and poverty led to the ouster of president Kurmanbek Bakiyev. His overthrow sparked violence between ethnic Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbeks, leaving hundreds dead and entire towns in ruins.