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Kyrgyzstan: Presidential Election Produces First-Round Winner

Sooronbai Jeenbekov, winner of the October 15 presidential election in Kyrgyzstan, arrives at the headquarters of the Social Democratic Party to address jubilant supporters. (Photo: Danil Usmanov)

Kyrgyzstan has chosen a new president, but it remains to be seen if he will really be in charge.
 
In a surprise development, government party candidate Sooronbai Jeenbekov swept to victory in the October 15 presidential election, winning 55 percent of the vote and thereby avoiding a widely anticipated runoff. His closest rival, multimillionaire Omurbek Babanov, garnered 35 percent of the ballots cast, and defied expectations by grudgingly accepting defeat.
 
Despite securing a 20-point margin of victory, Jeenbekov, 58, finds himself confronting a legitimacy hurdle. While his vote total would be the envy of many western politicians, in Kyrgyzstan, it represents a historically weak mandate. Outgoing president Almazbek Atambayev, who was limited constitutionally to one term in office, won the 2011 election with 63 percent of the vote.
 

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Nurjamal Djanibekova is a reporter based in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

Kyrgyzstan: Presidential Election Produces First-Round Winner

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