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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 February, 2005, 22:33 GMT
Protests before Kyrgyzstan vote
Supporters of Kyrgyz candidate Arslanbek Maliyev
Protesters want their candidates to contest the election
Thousands of people have blocked roads and government buildings in Kyrgyzstan in support of opposition politicians barred from this weekend's elections.

The protests in the former Soviet state began on Tuesday.

A number of candidates have been disqualified for alleged campaign violations, raising concerns from international observer groups.

President Askar Akayev has warned against a mass uprising like those in ex-Soviet states Ukraine and Georgia.

In both countries huge numbers of people rejected the results of elections they believed were fixed, eventually forcing the official results to be overturned.

KYRGYZSTAN POLL
390 candidates competing for 75 seats
More than 40 parties - including the centrist Alga Kyrgyzstan and the opposition People's Movement of Kyrgyzstan
Some opposition politicians barred
Run-off election held after two weeks, if no party wins more than 50% of the vote
Presidential race scheduled for October

On Wednesday supporters of banned candidates Akylbek Japarov and Arslanbek Maliyev blocked roads from Bishkek, the capital, to rural areas.

Supporters of Mr Maliyev, an independent moderate MP, later occupied a regional government building in Bokonbaev.

Protest organisers said there were about 5,000 people at each demonstration. A police official put the number at the pro-Maliyev event at about 2,000.

Presidential poll

Both men were disqualified on charges of allegedly bribing voters, the AFP news agency said.

"There are no clear reasons for my disqualification - my lawyers are preparing an appeal suit and intend to contest this court decision," Mr Zaparov said.

The New York-based International League for Human Rights has said it is "deeply concerned" about alleged rights violations in the run-up to Sunday's poll.

The vote for Kyrgyzstan's 75-seat parliament will set the background against which presidential elections will be fought on 30 October.

President Akayev, who has been in power since the country's independence in 1991, says he will step down.


SEE ALSO:
Kyrgyzstan feels wind of change
03 Feb 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Military rivalry in Kyrgyzstan
25 Oct 03 |  From Our Own Correspondent
Country profile: Kyrgyzstan
09 Jan 05 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Kyrgyzstan
16 May 04 |  Country profiles


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