But the opposition Ata Meken party, which took 9.3 per cent of the votes, had so far failed to meet a separate requirement of gaining 0.5 per cent of that same figure in each of Kyrgyzstan's seven regions and two main cities.   

 

Fraud claims

 

The election in the poor ex-Soviet republic has been clouded by allegations of widespread fraud and tensions between rival political parties, raising concerns about the stability of Kyrgyzstan which hosts the last US base left in Central Asia.

 

Opposition groups have accused the government of plotting to rig the vote to purge parliament of Bakiyev's political rivals. They threatened to hold mass protests if there were any signs of meddling.

 

"From the very beginning the election campaign has been marked by major violations," Omurbek Tekebayev, leader of the Ata Meken, said.

  

Despite accusations of widespread irregularities, many voters said they voted for Bakiyev's party, seeing it as a guarantor for stability following years of political turbulence and street protests.

 

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) election monitoring group said that the vote "challenged transparency and accountability".


The vote was "a missed opportunity and fell short of public expectations for further consolidation of the election process," the OSCE's Kimmo Kiljunen was quoted by AP news agency as saying.

 

Purported fraud allegations during the parliamentary vote in 2005 led to protests that drove then-president Askar Akayev from power.

 

The nation of five million has since been in continuous political turmoil as Bakiyev continues to clash with politicians over the extent of his powers, government appointments and frequent street protests.

 

Kyrgyzstan is considered the most liberal among Central Asia's five predominantly Muslim nations, but Bakiyev has faced criticism for attempts to tighten control.

 

Kyrgyzstan, which borders China, also hosts a Russian air base.