Presidential elections in Kyrgyzstan passed without serious violations, but Southern candidates express discontent
In Kyrgyzstan, the previous Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev has received approximately 63% of the votes in Presidential Elections that were found mostly free and fair by the observers. Violations in the electoral process were mainly related to the voter’s lists, where a significant number of the voters could not find their name and thus could not vote.
-We are pleased that the elections seem to have passed without significant violations and violence, says secretary general of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Bjørn Engesland. – It is now important that the runner-ups with their base in the southern regions use the established legal procedures for any complaint, and that they refrain from encouraging violent actions and from instigating discontent among people.
On Sunday, voters in Kyrgyzstan actively participated in the first Presidential Elections since the Central Asian Republic became a parliamentary republic. An initial list of more than 80 candidates for President was reduced to 16 by Election Day, all men of Kyrgyz nationality. The election campaign was as open as could be expected, albeit with some accusations of misuse of public funds. Also, media was not experienced enough to report objectively on the campaign and therefore preferred to refrain from reporting rather than offering any analysis to the public. In addition, some international news channels were blocked the last weeks before Election Day.
On Election Day, no direct violence or organized violations was reported, but a significant large number of voters did not find their names on the voter’s list and were not allowed to vote. An attempt to create a unified voter’s list had failed, and the existing voter’s lists were not accurate. The problem with the voters’ lists was in particular noticeable in the southern regions, adding to the already existing tension following the bloody unrest in June 2010.
The voting proceeded with only minor violations, whereas more serious violations were registered during counting and tabulation. In some instances, international observers were denied observing the counting and tabulation of results. All in all, most observers assessed the elections positively, underlining that procedural flaws must be addressed in the future.
The runner-ups Kamchybek Tashiev and Adakhan Madumarov, who each got approximately 14% of the votes, do not recognize the results, criticize the Central Election Commission and call for new elections. At the same time, they have participated in rallies in the south, where they have their base, and in particular blame the Central Election Commission for the fact that the turn-out that was much lower in the southern regions than the national average turn-out.
Atambayev is said to be a close ally to the current President Otunbayeva and also to the Russian Federation. President Rosa Otunbayeva fulfilled her original promise not to run as a candidate herself, after having governed Kyrgyzstan since the popular protests in April 2010 which ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiyev. Following a referendum of the new Kyrgyz constitution, the governmental system was changed from a Presidential republic to a Parliamentary republic, a change supported by more than 90% of the voters. Under the new system, the powers of the president have been reduced to the advantage of the parliament.