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Kyrgyzstan PM Leads Presidential Vote


Prime Minister and presidential candidate Almazbek Atambayev talks to journalists in the capital Bishkek, October 31, 2011.

Prime Minister and presidential candidate Almazbek Atambayev talks to journalists in the capital Bishkek, October 31, 2011.

Kyrgyzstan's Prime Minister, Almazbek Atambayev, is poised to become president after taking a commanding lead in the country's first presidential election since last year's bloody uprising ousted the government.

With nearly all of the first-round votes counted, official results have the Moscow-backedAtambayev far ahead of 15 other candidates, with 63 percent of the vote. That is enough for an outright majority and avoids the need for a runoff.

Other candidates, including former boxer Kachimbek Tashiyev and Adakhan Madumarov are accusing officials of fabricating the results.

Some candidates are also complaining of other problems, including people voting more than once, ballot box stuffing and authorities refusing to let voters register.

International observers were "cautiously optimistic" about the future of of democracy in Kyrgyzstan.

Kyrgyzstan hosts both U.S. and Russian military bases and is a crucial hub for NATO operations in Afghanistan. Some of the candidates have promised to respect the U.S. base lease, which expires in 2014.

Sunday's election comes a year after nationwide protests against corruption and poverty led to the ouster of president Kurmanbek Bakiyev. His overthrow sparked violence between ethnic Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbeks, leaving hundreds dead and entire towns in ruins.


Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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