Mon, Jul 27, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Recordings prove election fraud: Kyrgyz opposition

AP , BISHKEK

Kyrgyzstan’s opposition presented video recordings on Saturday that it claims show widespread fraud in the recent presidential election and announced plans for anti-government demonstrations.

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev won a second term in Thursday’s election, taking 83 percent of the vote, official results said. But the opposition is crying fraud and the election has come under sharp international criticism.

“This was not an election, it was shameless deception,” Bakyt Beshimov, campaign manager for the main opposition candidate, said on Saturday. “We are ready to organize meetings and protests against this outrage and disgrace.”

The United People’s Movement said in a statement that protest rallies “against the thieves of our votes” would begin on Wednesday.

Protests sparked by allegations of fraud in a national election in 2005 led to chaos after demonstrators stormed into the presidential building and forced longtime leader Askar Akayev to flee. He eventually resettled in Russia.

Stability in Kyrgyzstan, a country of 5 million, is of strong interest to both Russia and the US. The country hosts a US air base crucial to operations in Afghanistan and is the focus of competition between Washington and Moscow for regional influence.

Beshimov spoke at a news conference where recordings were played that appeared to show men casting multiple ballots and a single group of voters being transported to numerous voting stations.

Central Elections Commission Chairman Damir Lisovsky said copies of the footage submitted to the authorities had been sent to prosecutors.

“In those polling stations where those types of incidents did indeed take place, we have not recognized the results of the vote,” he said.

Opposition claims of election fraud were lent weight on Friday by the EU’s Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE), which said the vote was marred by ballot-box stuffing and widespread irregularities in vote counting.

“We fully agree with the OSCE’s finding that election day was a disappointment,” Beshimov said.

The report said observers rated more than half the vote counts at precincts as not acceptable.

Lisovsky said the elections commission will examine issues raised by the organization’s report, but complained that it appeared to contradict the findings of other international monitoring groups.

Observers from the Commonwealth of Independent States, a group of former Soviet republics, praised the election as “open and free.”

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