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Last Updated: Monday, 11 July, 2005, 12:14 GMT 13:14 UK
Kyrgyz poll hailed as 'progress'
Kurmanbek Bakiev
Bakiev, a former opposition leader, has led his country since March
Kyrgyzstan's presidential poll showed "tangible progress" in democratic standards, foreign monitors concluded.

A statement by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said Sunday's election was rated either "good" or "very good".

Acting Kyrgyz leader Kurmanbek Bakiev scored a landslide victory in the poll, winning 89% of the votes.

In his first post-election comments, Mr Bakiev said it was time to review the need for a US airbase in his country.

American-led forces have been stationed at a base near the capital Bishkek since 2001, to support military operations in nearby Afghanistan.

"Afghanistan has had presidential and parliamentary elections. The situation there has stabilised. So now we may begin discussing the necessity of US military forces' presence," Mr Bakiev said.

Election pact

Mr Bakiev was appointed acting president in March following the downfall of former leader Askar Akayev, who fled into exile.

Map of Kyrgyzstan

Mr Bakiev praised Sunday's poll, which he said provided every citizen of the country with the right to choose.

"For the first time in recent years, the elections are actually elections," he said.

The international monitoring team largely agreed with Mr Bakiev.

"I am pleased to note the increased political will to hold a democratic election this time around. The election marked a clear progress, although the quality of the process deteriorated during the count," said Kimmo Kiljunen, a member of the OSCE's delegation.

In a statement, the team cited concern over a small number of irregularities, including "apparently deliberate fraud such as ballot stuffing, and some implausible increases in turnout figures".

But it also concluded that there were almost no apparent obstacles to campaigning, and that the abuse of administrative resources was largely absent.

Voting was particularly active in the south of the country, Mr Bakiev's native region.

The protest movement which overthrew Mr Akayev began in the south following disputed parliamentary elections and widespread disaffection and the slow pace of economic reform.

Mr Bakiev's success is due to a pact he made with his rival, former Prime Minister Felix Kulov, says the BBC's Ian MacWilliam in Bishkek.

Mr Kulov withdrew his candidacy in return for a promise to be offered the post of prime minister in a new government.

However, the scale of his victory will put to rest any doubts about Mr Bakiev's popular mandate, our correspondent says.

US bases

Mr Bakiev, 55, says his main goal is to eradicate corruption.

But in his first news conference since the election, he chose to focus on the increasingly contentious presence of the US airbase in Kyrgyzstan.

Mr Bakiev's comments echoed a recent call by the Central Asian grouping known as the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO), which said the US should set a date for the withdrawal of its bases in both Kyrgyzstan and neighbouring Uzbekistan.

Key SCO members Russia and China have been making it increasingly clear they want to limit the US presence in Central Asia.

Watch the president-elect reacting to the news

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06 Jul 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Q&A: Kyrgyzstan votes
08 Jul 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Violence dents Kyrgyz poll hopes
22 Jun 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Profile: Kurmanbek Bakiev
07 Jul 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Kyrgyzstan's new leaders
17 Jun 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Kyrgyzstan faces post-Akayev future
04 Apr 05 |  Asia-Pacific


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