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Bakiyev wins Kyrgyz presidency by landslide – TV

July 10, 2005

By Dmitry Solovyov

BISHKEK (Reuters) – Kyrgyzstan’s acting President Kurmanbek
Bakiyev won Sunday’s presidential elections by a landslide, a
broadcast from the central election commission said, echoing
earlier exit poll reports.

“We can say now Kurmanbek Bakiyev has won by a landslide.
We only don’t know the precise percentage of the votes he
received,” said a Kyrgyz television presenter anchoring a press
briefing broadcast live from the central election commission.

If the numbers are confirmed, he will lead the impoverished
Central Asian state whose post-Soviet leadership under Askar
Akayev was ousted in a March uprising against a flawed
parliamentary poll.

The West has repeatedly said free and fair polls would add
legitimacy to the country’s new leadership and set a good
example of democracy for authoritarian regional neighbors.

Official results are due after 8 a.m. (0200 GMT) on Monday,
but an exit poll conducted by three Kyrgyz pollsters had
earlier put Bakiyev well ahead of five other hopefuls with a
national average of well above 80 percent of all ballots cast.

“Kurmanbek Bakiyev has surely won by a landslide in the
capital Bishkek,” central election commission head Turgunaaly
Abdraimov told the live broadcast. “But let’s not be in a hurry
and wait for the final result (in the whole of the country).

Staff at Bakiyev’s election campaign headquarters was
euphoric.

“Turnout was a high 73 percent today. Of these voters, a
minimum of 75 percent chose Bakiyev,” Yuruslan Doichubekov,
Bakiyev’s election campaign chief, told Reuters.

“Bakiyev’s win means that there will be no more corruption
in Kyrgyzstan, and every conscientious person will be
guaranteed a job or a business of his own.”

Casting his ballot on Sunday, Bakiyev pledged to the West
to hold honest polls and boost stability in the volatile state.

OSCE election monitors will deliver their verdict on
Monday.

PLEDGES AND HOPES OF STABILITY

The elections were called to find a successor to Akayev,
who ruled the mountainous ex-Soviet nation for nearly 15 years
but fled to Russia on March 24 after violent protests.

Bakiyev, 55, was a prime minister under Akayev but later
joined the opposition and played a key role in the protests.

Kyrgyzstan, which borders China, has been volatile since
the March coup, and Bakiyev’s cabinet acknowledged last month
it was not in full control after a crowd seized and briefly
held the government headquarters.

The United States and Russia have military air bases in
Kyrgyzstan and have both emphasized a need for stability.

Before the polls closed, hundreds of police and interior
troops — all in full anti-riot gear — held an exercise in the
main square nearby, in an eloquent demonstration of the new
government’s determination to protect law and order.

The five former Soviet republics in Central Asia have a
history of flawed elections and government pressure on
opposition parties and independent media.

The leaders of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan have
all been in power since Soviet days. The president of
Tajikistan was installed in a 1992-97 civil war.

“I voted for Bakiyev,” said Salina Abdykadyrova, a shop
assistant aged 39. “There must be peace in Kyrgyzstan, then the
economy will grow, and this current lawlessness will end.”

Bakiyev’s chances were bolstered by a lack of other
prominent candidates and the fact that former security services
chief Felix Kulov, jailed under Akayev, ran in tandem with him.

There had been concerns that a race pitting Bakiyev, a
southerner, against Kulov, a northerner, could have aggravated
north-south tension in the country, which is divided by
mountains and has a large ethnic Uzbek population in the south.
(Additional reporting by Olga Dzyubenko)




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