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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Exit Poll Shows Easy Victory for Bakiyev

APAn official checking the fingers of a Kyrgyz soldier at a polling station Sunday.
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan — Acting Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev looked set for a landslide victory on Sunday in the first presidential election since a popular uprising toppled the previous leadership, according to an exit poll.

Official results are due early on Monday, but an exit poll conducted by three Kyrgyz pollsters put Bakiyev well ahead of five other hopefuls with a national average of 86.23 percent of all ballots cast by 4 p.m.

Kyrgyzstan's 2.6 million voters cast ballots from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. The Central Election Commission said the election was valid by 4 p.m. after 53 percent of voters had cast their ballots.

"These elections are unique because for the first time since independence they present a genuine choice in the most accurate sense of this word," Bakiyev said after casting his ballot.

"No one was pressed or told how to vote," he told reporters. "I want to stress once again that the elections will be honest and transparent, in strict conformity with the standards set by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe."

OSCE election monitors will deliver their verdict on Monday.

The West has repeatedly said that free and fair elections will add legitimacy to the Central Asian country's new leadership, installed after the uprising, and set a good example of democracy for regional neighbors.

The election was called to seek a successor to Askar Akayev, who ruled the nation for nearly 15 years but fled to Russia after violent protests against flawed parliamentary elections.

Bakiyev, a 55-year-old former prime minister under Akayev who later joined the opposition and played a leading role in the protests, was the front-runner in the race of six candidates.

Kyrgyzstan has been volatile since the March coup, and Bakiyev's Cabinet acknowledged last month that it was not in full control after a crowd seized and briefly held the government headquarters. Bakiyev promised on Sunday that the country would emerge more stable from the election. "It'll all be quiet, tranquil and good," he said.

Many voters leaving a polling station in central Bishkek said they wanted only a better life and peace.

"I voted for Bakiyev," said Salina Abdykadyrova, 39, a shop assistant. "There must be peace in Kyrgyzstan, then the economy will grow, and this current lawlessness will end."

Bolstering Bakiyev's chances are a lack of other prominent candidates and the fact that former security services chief Felix Kulov, jailed under Akayev, gave his support rather than contest the ballot.