Page last updated at 13:35 GMT, Monday, 17 December 2007

Kyrgyz leader's poll win criticised

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev
Mr Bakiyev's party is far ahead of any of its rivals

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev's party has won a resounding victory in the country's general elections, according to preliminary results.

But foreign monitors say the poll failed to meet international standards.

Mr Bakiyev's Ak Zhol party has won every parliamentary seat, with no other party able to secure the necessary distribution of votes.

Opposition groups have accused Mr Bakiyev of a power grab, and a move towards authoritarianism.

Mr Bakiyev called the snap election after voters approved plans to revise the constitution in an October referendum.

Turnout in Sunday's polls was reported at more than 60%, and Mr Bakiyev praised the elections as a "historic day" for the former Soviet nation.

But in a statement on Monday, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) criticised the polls.

"The 16 December parliamentary elections in Kyrgyzstan failed to meet a number of OSCE commitments," it said.

"Overall the election represented a missed opportunity and fell short of public expectations."

'Pluralism undermined'

Mr Bakiyev insists the new system agreed during the referendum - whereby MPs are elected on a party-list basis - will give the people more power and help end two years of upheaval.

Polling station in Besh-Kungey near Kyrgyz capital Bishkek
More than 60% of Kyrgyz voters cast their ballots

But the OSCE has criticised the new electoral system on the grounds that it could "defeat the objective of proportional representation and might lead to an endless cycle of elections."

The official in charge of the OSCE mission in Kyrgyzstan, Kimmo Kiljunen, said: "Political pluralism, which I have seen develop, is undermined by this missed opportunity".

The OSCE was also critical of the role of the media in the election, particularly the state broadcaster, saying it "did not provide adequate and balanced information for voters."

'Historic day'

With more than 80% of votes now counted, it is apparent that only one other party, Ata Meken, cleared the 5% threshold needed to gain seats in parliament.

But while it gained 9.2% of the votes, Ata Meken was unable to reach a requirement to take 0.5% of the vote in each of Kyrgyzstan's seven regions, and its two main cities.

Map of Kyrgyzstan

The opposition says the poll was hit by irregularities including the stuffing of ballot boxes, bribery and intimidation.

Ata-Meken's deputy leader Kubatbek Baibolov accused the government of "flagrant fraud", the French news agency AFP said.

Sunday's poll was the first parliamentary vote since 2005, when allegations of a rigged ballot led to mass protests that drove then President Askar Akayev from power and gave Mr Bakiyev the top job.

Since then, the country has been hampered by a political stand-off between the president and parliamentary deputies elected during the Akayev era.

The BBC's Natalia Antelava says that many people in Kyrgyzstan want an end to continued street protests and government in-fighting.

But leaving strong opposition outside the government could prove to be a dubious recipe for stability, our correspondent says.

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