Page last updated at 14:29 GMT, Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Kyrgyz court revokes poll ruling

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev
Mr Bakiyev's party won a convincing victory

Kyrgyzstan's Supreme Court has revoked a ruling which, if applied, would have given President Kurmanbek Bakiyev's party every seat in parliament.

Under a recent rule introduced by Mr Bakiyev, a party could gain a seat only if it achieved at least 0.5% of the vote in every region of the country.

In Sunday's parliamentary election, Mr Bakiyev's Ak Zhol party was the only one to fulfil the criteria.

The court's decision means the Ata Meken party may also gain some seats.

But Ak Zhol will retain the vast majority of the 90 seats available in the one-chamber parliament.

Traditionally, Kyrgyzstan has been regarded as having one of the most open political systems among Central Asia's former Soviet republics.

But Sunday's poll was criticised by international observers, who cited problems including a lack of transparency in vote-counting and deregistration of leading candidates.

Immediate effect

Mr Bakiyev introduced a new constitution in October, installing a proportional representation system for electing MPs.

In order to gain seats in parliament under this system, a party had to win 0.5% of the vote in each of Kyrgyzstan's seven regions and its two main cities - as well as polling more than 5% of the vote nationally.

Map of Kyrgyzstan

Other than Ak Zhol, the Ata Meken party was the only one to win more than 5% of the vote nationally, but it failed to gain 0.5% in all of the regions - thereby disqualifying it from parliament.

Ak Zhol lodged an appeal against the rule about regional votes before the election - in a move analysts suggest was aimed at preventing post-election disputes.

"The Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan has satisfied the appeal by the Ak Zhol party on cancelling the regional threshold of 0.5% for parties to enter parliament," said Judge Kurmanbek Osmonov.

"The court's decision comes into force immediately, is final and is not subject to appeal," AFP news agency quoted the judge as saying.

The BBC's Natalia Anteleva, in the southern city of Osh, says the main question now is whether opposition parties will accept the official results, and the handful of seats that they have won.

In the south of the country, 52 opposition activists have gone on a hunger strike to demand a recount, our correspondent says. They claim they have been cheated.

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