Observers see 'significant and numerous' problems at Kyrgyzstan vote

Cheryl Sanders
October 16, 2017

M - Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a congratulatory telegram to Kyrgyzstan's president-elect Sooronbai Jeenbekov on his victory, the Kremlin said.

The incumbent Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev, whose term expires on December 1, is not eligible for re-election, as a president can only serve for one term, according to the Kyrgyz Constitution.

"I've never grabbed power and am not going to do that in the future", said Babanov, who won more than 33 percent of the vote.

A close ally of Moscow and host to a Russian military base, Kyrgyzstan helps its former Soviet overlord project power across a region where China and the U.S. also vie for influence.

Speaking to reporters, Babanov also criticised the use of "administrative resources" in the poll run-up - including government officials using pressure to influence voters - and said he would work to make elections fairer in the future.

While Atambayev was able to strengthen some executive powers a year ago, he refrained from trying to hold onto power and instead backed Jeenbekov, a close ally and experienced bureaucrat.

Jeenbekov and other candidate Omurbek Babanov - are former Prime Ministers of Kyrgyzstan.

Babanov's campaign office declined to comment on the preliminary results but said it would do so on Monday.

The vote was competitive and candidates could, in general, campaign freely, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said.

The first two leaders since the fall of the Soviet Union 25 years ago were removed following riots in 2005 and 2010, but the mainly Muslim nation has since changed its parliamentary system.

Pre-election polls had suggested both candidates would fail to get 50 percent and have to proceed to a second-round runoff.

Jeenbekov's Social Democratic party and Babanov's Fatherland party have been the largest and second-largest factions in the Kyrgyz parliament since elections in 2015.

Ahead of the vote, one of Babanov's main supporters was arrested on suspicion of plotting a coup.

Atambayev on Sunday warned opponents against trying to stage violent protests after the vote. Voter turnout was 55.93 percent.

Other reports by iNewsToday