Kyrgyz voters go to polls to elect new president

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Kyrgyz voters poured into polling stations early on Sunday to elect the country’s new leader for the first time since the ouster of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev last year.

Kyrgyz voters poured into polling stations early on Sunday to elect the country’s new leader for the first time since the ouster of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev last year.

More than 2,200 polling stations opened throughout the country at 8 am local time (02:00 GMT) and will close at 7 pm local time (13:00 GMT).

A total of 16 candidates are running in the elections. Seven officially registered candidates recently withdrew from the presidential race, including three on Thursday.

Interim President Roza Otunbayeva, who took power after Bakiyev was ousted as president amid large-scale popular protests in April 2010, is barred from running in the polls. She is to leave the presidential post on December 31.

“Today is the day when we will elect the president and many countries will look at out country with admiration,” acting Kyrgyz Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov said, adding that the elections were the first “free and democratic” presidential vote in Kyrgyzstan.

More than 3,000 voters are eligible to cast their ballots in Sunday’s vote. If no candidate gets 50 percent plus one vote, the two most popular candidates would face each other in the run-off.

In line with the new Kyrgyz constitution, the president is elected for one six-year term.

Some 800 monitors from 56 countries and more than 100 journalists are observing the elections.

The April revolution was the second since the 2005 Tulip Revolution that ousted post-Soviet leader Askar Akayev and brought Bakiyev to power.

 

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