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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kyrgyzstan's President Gets a Loyal Parliament

APElection officials opening a ballot box to count votes at a polling station in Bishkek. Opposition candidates won only four of the 43 seats at stake in the vote.
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan -- Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev secured an overwhelmingly loyal parliament in runoff elections, according to preliminary results Monday from the balloting, which the opposition said was riddled with abuses and Western observers claimed had significant shortcomings.

Election officials said opposition candidates had won only four of the 43 seats that were at stake in Kyrgyzstan's parliament at polls Sunday.

Opposition candidates contested about a dozen seats in the runoffs, after winning only two of the 32 seats filled during the original Feb. 27 vote.

The runoffs were a crucial test of strength both for Akayev and the opposition ahead of October's presidential election, amid opposition charges that Akayev might extend his rule beyond constitutional limits. Akayev's daughter, Bermet, won a comfortable victory in Sunday's vote. His son, Aidar, won a seat in the first round of voting. Akayev has repeatedly denied he wants another term. He has been in power since 1990 and is not eligible to run after serving two consecutive terms.

The opposition, however, fears his loyalists are seeking to extend his rule or handpick his successor.

Opposition leader Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who plans to run for president, lost in his district by 20 percentage points, election officials said.

Opposition leaders planned to gather Tuesday in the southern city of Jalal-Abad amid expectations they would call for public protests. Sporadic protests have been held in the south against alleged breaches in the first round of voting Feb. 27.

On Monday, about 3,000 people rallied outside the district government building in the southern city of Uzgen, accusing authorities of robbing opposition candidate Adakham Madumarov of victory, local civil rights activist Erkemurat Asanov said.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which sent 82 observers, said Monday that the runoffs showed some technical improvements over the first round, but significant shortcomings remained.

Opposition candidates said abuses were worse in the runoff balloting. "This is the dirtiest election I've seen," said Ishenbai Kadyrbekov, a disqualified opposition candidate.

Election chief Sulaiman Imanbayev denied the allegations Monday, saying only a few breaches were reported and would not affect the election outcome.