In run-up to parliamentary polls, tensions re-emerge months after deadly unrest.
|Kamchibek Tashiyev’s nationalist Ata-Zhurt party is ahead in the polls with around 8.7 per cent of eligible votes [AFP]|
Five parties have passed the threshold to win seats in Kyrgyzstan’s new parliament after an election aimed at shifting the strategic Central Asian nation away from authoritarian rule.
Holding a narrow lead with 93 per cent of the votes counted is Ata Zhurt, whose members include former colleagues of Kurmanbek Bakiyev, the ousted president. The Central Election Commission on Monday emphasised that the results are not final.
But with just 8.69 per cent of the share of the vote, the nationalist party would be unable to govern on their own as Kyrgyzstan attempts to form Central Asia’s first parliamentary democracy.
The Social Democratic Party, which supports the interim government, was close behind Ata Zhurt on 8.09 per cent, while the pro-Moscow Ar-Namys party of ex-prime minister Felix Kulov was third on 7.48 per cent.
Al Jazeera’s James Bays, reporting from the capital Bishkek, said the election results were “going to be very close” and as a result a “coalition will be formed”.
“The preliminary results show that five parties all have a projection of between 20 and 28 seats in the new parliament.”
Twenty-nine parties contested the polls, but just five of them won more than five per cent of the nationwide vote and more than 0.5 per cent in each of the country’s regions, the minimum requirement to enter parliament.
Election rules stipulate that no single party will be allotted more than 65 of the 120 seats in parliament. The seats will be distributed proportionately to those parties that pass the entry threshold.
|Sunday’s vote was held under a new constitution aimed at creating Central Asia’s first parliamentary democracy|
The election commission said that the preliminary results distributed on Monday were given as a percentage of the electorate rather of those that cast ballots. Turnout was 57 per cent, according to the commission.
Sunday’s election, which came only four months after more than 400 people were killed in clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in the south of the country, passed without violence and only minor reports of fraud.
However, there remain fears of unrest as the parties jostle for power, while a victory for Ata Zhurt would be likely to upset the minority Uzbeks, some of whom had called for them to be removed from the ballot in the week before polling.
“Some in the Uzbek community will describe them as an ethnically nationalist party only supporting those that are of ethnic Kyrgyz birth,” Al Jazeera’s Bays said.
“The other reason they are controversial is all the key party leaders are people who before April were supporters of the former President Bakiyev. He was overthrown in April and yet the party that was founded by his former loyalists is ahead in the polls.”
‘Proud’ of elections
The parliament will be the country’s main decision-making body, assuming more power than the president.
“We have not known such elections for the last two decades,” Roza Otunbayeva, the president of Kyrgyzstan, said. “We can be proud of the fact that these elections were completely different to those we have seen before.”
Otunbayeva said she will remain as president until December 31, 2011.
“This is the first time that the Kyrgyz people have tasted democracy,” Chynybai Tursunbekov, a candidate for the social-democratic party of Kyrgyzstan, second in the polls, said.
Otunbayeva came to power after a popular revolt in April toppled Bakiyev, a former opposition leader who had taken over after his Soviet-era predecessor was ousted in 2005. Bakiyev is now exiled in Belarus.
After nearly 20 years of authoritarian rule since the collapse of the Soviet Union, interim leaders want to empower a prime minister to bridge political and ethnic rifts.