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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Criticizes Kyrgyz Elections

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan --The U.S. ambassador to Kyrgyzstan criticized the government Wednesday for failing to ensure free elections, as opposition supporters continued to rally across the country against alleged voting fraud.

Ambassador Stephen Young said Sunday's runoff parliamentary elections and the original vote on Feb. 27 were tarnished by harassment of independent media, government interference in the campaign process, and media bias.

Hundreds of people have rallied against the alleged fraud and demanded Akayev step down in several districts since the first round of voting. The protests intensified after Sunday's runoff.

The protesters have occupied several local government buildings. On Monday, they seized the regional governor and a district chief in the western Talas region.

The officials were released Wednesday, but about 2,000 protesters continued to rally there, police said. Protesters on Wednesday occupied government buildings in the Naryn and Osh regions.