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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kyrgyz Police Break Up Rally as Parliament Meets

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan -- Kyrgyzstan's parliament held its first session Friday as police arrested several people demonstrating against a vote that strengthened President Kurmanbek Bakiyev but opened the door for further turmoil.

The 90-member parliament met in the capital, Bishkek, following Sunday's elections, which were criticized by opposition forces and foreign observers.

A few blocks away, some 60 supporters of the main opposition party Ata Meken protested in a square, holding placards that read "I don't believe" -- a denunciation of the official results.

Police swiftly moved in and detained 17 young men, according to the party.

Bakiyev's political party, Ak Zhol, won 71 parliament seats, and two smaller parties that have sided with Bakiyev in the past won the other 19.

Ata Meken finished second with about 8.3 percent of the vote, but failed to win any seats under restrictive new election rules pushed through by Bakiyev. Ata Meken's leaders accused the government of rigging the results and threatened to challenge them in court.

The party has also organized protests, and 16 participants in a demonstration Thursday were sentenced to jail terms of up to a week, fined or issued warnings in cursory trials at a police detention center late Thursday, said Lira Ismailov, a member of Citizens Against Corruption, a nongovernmental organization.

Ismailov said the conduct of the trials violated several laws.

"We consider this lawlessness and scare tactics," he said.

Kyrgyzstan has been in political turmoil since opposition protests after a 2005 parliamentary vote drove longtime President Askar Akayev from power.