Kyrgyzstan cancels general election results after unrest

Kyrgyzstan cancels general election results after unrest
People protest during a rally against the results of a parliamentary vote in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020. Large crowds of people have gathered in the center of Kyrgyzstan’s capital to protest against the results of a parliamentary election, early results of which gave the majority of seats to two parties with ties to the ruling elites amid allegations of vote buying. (AP Photo/Vladimir Voronin)

Kyrgyzstan election officials have declared the results of the weekend’s parliamentary election invalid after mass protests erupted in the capital Bishkek and other cities, with opposition supporters seizing government buildings overnight and demanding a new election.

Hundreds were injured, and one person died in the unrest. Members of several opposition parties announced plans to oust the president and form a new government.

The decision to cancel the results of the vote was made to “prevent tension” in the country, the head of the Central Election Commission, Nurzhan Shaildabekova, told the Interfax news agency.

Mass protests broke out after authorities announced early results of Sunday’s parliamentary election. They attributed the majority of votes to two parties with ties to the ruling elites, amid reports of vote buying and other violations.

Protesters in Bishkek (Vladimir Voronin/AP)

Supporters of a dozen opposition parties took to the streets on Monday, demanding the cancellation of the vote and a new election.

Police moved to disperse the crowds with water cannons, tear gas and stun grenades, and 590 people sustained injuries in clashes and one person died, the Interfax news agency reported, citing the Health Ministry.

The violent crackdown failed to curb the unrest, and during the night protesters broke into the government complex that houses the parliament and the presidential office. Interfax reported that opposition supporters also took control of Bishkek’s City Hall.

Another group of protesters went to Kyrgyzstan’s State Committee of National Security, demanding to free former president Almazbek Atambayev, who was convicted on corruption charges earlier this year and sentenced to 11 years and two months in prison.

Security officers released Atambayev after negotiations with the protesters.

Members of several opposition parties announced plans to oust the president and create a new government.

Sooronbai Jeenbekov (Vladimir Voronin/AP)

“We intend to seek the dismissal of Sooronbai Jeenbekov from his post,” Maksat Mamytkanov, a member of the Chon Kazat party, told Interfax on Tuesday, adding that opposition parties also insist on adopting a new constitution.

Zhanar Akayev of the Ata Meken opposition party was quoted by the Kyrgyz service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty as saying that “a new prime minister and the people’s government need to be appointed”, and then “a popular election” needs to be held.

Mr Jeenbekov on Tuesday urged leaders of opposition parties to “calm their supporters down and take them away” from the streets.

“I call on all (political) forces to put the fate of the country above their political ambitions and return to (acting) within the law,” he said.

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