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Last Updated: Friday, 14 December 2007, 18:30 GMT
Q&A: Kyrgyzstan election
President Kurmanbek Bakiyev
Critics say President Bakiyev is tightening his grip on power

Kyrgyzstan will vote in a new parliament on 16 December, three years ahead of schedule.

President Kurmanbek Bakiyev dissolved the outgoing parliament on 22 October, accusing its members of meddling in the affairs of other branches of power and of plotting "a parliamentary coup" against his authority.

The opposition said that Mr Bakiyev had no reason to dissolve parliament.

How are these elections different?

Members of the new parliament will be chosen from party lists rather than single-seat constituencies, following a referendum on 21 October that approved a new constitution and electoral code.

Mr Bakiyev said single-seat constituencies were blighted by vote-buying and armed conflicts between supporters of rival candidates. "All this must be stopped before it is too late," the president said in his nationwide address.

Parties intending to run had to notify the Central Election Commission (CEC) by 26 October and then submit a list of between 90 and 100 candidates to the CEC by 18 November.

Voters will elect a total of 90 MPs for the new parliament, compared with 75 in the outgoing one. At least 15% of the MPs must be under 35 years old, and 15% members of different ethnic groups. The gender ratio among MPs must be no more than 70 men to 30 women.

Which parties are taking part?

The parties running include Ak Zhol, which was set up by Mr Bakiyev a few days before announcing the election.

The opposition accused him of breaking the constitution, which bans the president from being a leader or a member of a political party. Following heavy criticism, Mr Bakiyev stepped down from the position of party leader.

The five main opposition parties have also been approved by the CEC to take part. Ar-Namys is fielding its leader, former Prime Minister Feliks Kulov, as one of its top five candidates.

Opposition MP Omurbek Tekebayev heads the list drawn up by his party, Ata-Meken.

The Asaba party nominated 100 candidates, with Azimbek Beknazarov and the leader of the Kayran El opposition party, Dooronbek Sadyrbayev appearing in the top five.

Prime Minister Almaz Atambayev's Social Democratic Party features MP Omurbek Babanov in its top five.

Four other parties nominated their top five candidates by the deadline: ErK (Erkin Kyrgyzstan), the Green Party, Taza Koom and Turan.

Which party is likely to win the most seats?

Experts say Ak Zhol will win the election comfortably.

A number of smaller pro-presidential parties have merged with Ak Zhol, including the centrist Sodruzhestvo, whose members were concerned about its chances of attaining the 5% of the vote necessary for a party to be represented in parliament.

Other parties which have been absorbed into Ak Zhol are Ata-Dzhurt, the patriotic party of Kyrgyzstan's Unity, One Kyrgyzstan, Soglasiye, El Kelechegi, the Republican Labour and Unity Party and My Country.

However, several political parties have united into blocs to boost their chances against Ak Zhol. Two opposition parties, Ata-Meken and Ak-Shumkar, said that they would work together in the polls under the banner of Ata-Meken.

How are the elections covered by the local media?

Press and media outlets that are funded either wholly or partly by the state are obliged to provide candidates and political parties with free airtime.

Candidates and political parties are also entitled to buy additional airtime and space from state-run and independent broadcasters and publications which have been accredited by the CEC.

Overall, 127 broadcasters and publications have been accredited to cover the election campaign, including several well-known opposition newspapers and TV channels.

The CEC had to warn Ak Zhol not to start campaigning before the officially scheduled start-date of 26 November.

Who will observe the election?

The head of the OSCE local bureau in Osh, Jerome Bouyjou, has said that about 200 independent observers and 20-25 long-term international observers from the OSCE will monitor the election campaign.

CIS Executive Secretary Sergey Lebedev has also promised to send an observer mission to Kyrgyzstan.

When will the result be known?

The CEC shall officially announce the results within two weeks of polling day. The elected MPs will be registered with the CEC within three weeks of the election results being officially announced.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

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