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Last Updated: Friday, 4 March, 2005, 18:55 GMT
Kyrgyz protests at ballot 'fraud'
By Ian MacWilliam
BBC News, Almaty

Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev
There have been calls for Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev to resign
Demonstrations have been taking place in Kyrgyzstan in protest at alleged government interference in last Sunday's parliamentary elections.

It is the fifth day of protests in the central Asian republic since the vote, with demonstrators occupying a state building and blocking a road.

The unrest is taking place in a region where there are concerns about ethnic and political tensions.

Foreign election monitors have reported extensive election violations.

A few hundred protesters have occupied the offices of the regional governor in Jalalabad in southern Kyrgyzstan.

They say the opposition candidate they backed in the elections lost because of electoral fraud and are demanding he be allowed to run in a second round of elections later this month.

Ethnic tensions

In another nearby district, a crowd reportedly numbering up to 3,000 people blocked a main road demanding the resignation of local officials there.

Their favourite candidate, another opposition figure, came second.

Some of the protesters have called for the resignation of the Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev.

More than half of the parliamentary seats will only be decided in the run-off elections due in just over a week.

International observers have said there were extensive violations during the election campaign and during the voting itself.

Southern Kyrgyzstan is separated from the capital Bishkek by high mountains. It has long been an opposition stronghold.

Emotions still run high there over an incident three years ago when government police fired on a crowd of demonstrators who were rallying in support of a jailed opposition politician.

Several demonstrators were killed and dozens of others wounded.

The south of the country also has a large Uzbek minority and ethnic tensions there have caused bloodshed in the past.

Kyrgyzstan set for run-off polls
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03 Feb 05 |  Asia-Pacific
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25 Oct 03 |  From Our Own Correspondent
Country profile: Kyrgyzstan
23 Feb 05 |  Country profiles

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