Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev has claimed a surprising outright win in Kyrgyzstan’s presidential elections on Sunday, but some of his 15 opponents refused to concede defeat and alleged fraud.
With 99 percent of the votes counted Mr. Atambayev garnered more than 63 percent, well above the 50-percent minimum needed to avoid a runoff.
His rivals, however, claimed there were many violations, including ballot box stuffing and repeat voting. They found it incredible that Mr. Atambayev, a northerner, could have won the same share of the votes in the south as he did in the north.
Supporters of the winner’s main rivals, former Parliament Speaker Adakhan Madumarov and ex-Emergency Services minister Kamchibek Tashiyev, who won 14 percent each, staged protests rallies in the south provinces and blocked the main north-south road demanding a new vote. They gave authorities two days to meet their demands, threatening to resume the protests.
Observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), criticised faulty voter lists, multiple voting and ballot stuffing, even as they hailed the free and peaceful election campaign.
Many people were unable to vote because they could not find themselves in the registered voter lists. Those who were turned away included even the son of Interim President Rosa Otunbayeva and one of the presidential candidates.
However, analysts attributed Mr. Atambayev’s victory to his popularity as Prime Minister and his ability to consolidate his electorate in the north, where the turnout was much higher than the country’s average of 60 percent. At the same time, they said the election deepened the split between the north and the south, which largely defined Kyrgyzstan’s clan-based politics since the breakup of the Soviet Union. The country’s first post-Soviet President Askar Akayev, a northerner, was toppled in 2005 by protests that originated in the south, and his successor Kurmanbek Bakiyev, a southerner, was overthrown by northern protesters last year.