Kyrgyzstan's election commission annuls vote results after clashes

Photo: EPA Opposition supporters during a protest against the parliamentary election results, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, 5 October.

Kyrgyzstan's Central Electoral Commission announced on Tuesday it was cancelling the results of a disputed parliamentary vote that has plunged the Central Asian country into political chaos, news wires reported. The electoral body said in a statement it had "invalidated the election results" which saw parties close to pro-Russian President Sooronbay Jeenbekov score big wins amid accusations of mass vote-buying campaigns.

The announcement came a day after opposition supporters seized Kyrgyzstan’s seat of government in the capital Bishkek, and freed the country's former president Almazbek Atambayev from jail.

Police used water cannon, stun grenades and tear gas to disperse protesters attempting to force their way through the gates of the building that houses the former Soviet republic’s parliament and presidential offices.

Photos published by Radio Free Europe later showed protesters strolling around the building unhindered. A crowd of around 2,000 people then forced their way into the nearby National Security Committee building, where Atambayev was being held. Adil Turdukuov, an activist and ally of Atambayev who witnessed the release said the ex-leader was freed “without force or use of any weapons” and that national security officials had not attempted to halt protesters.

Footage posted on social media showed Atambayev, 64, greeting supporters after he left jail, where he was serving an 11-year-sentence for his role in the illegal release of a mob boss.

Atambayev was once close with his successor Jeenbekov, but the pair fell out shortly after the 61-year-old won the country’s last presidential election in 2017.Both men are viewed as loyal allies of Russia, whose strategic position in the country is likely to remain unaffected despite the unrest. Russian leader Vladimir Putin tried to broker a peace agreement between the pair last year but could not prevent Atambayev’s arrest.

The two parties that swept Sunday’s poll are supportive of the current president and hostile towards his predecessor. But both were viewed by rival parties of coordinating a massive vote-buying campaign.

 

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