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Kyrgyzstan: Ruling Party's Presidential Candidate Bags Shock First-Round Victory

A voter casting his ballot at a polling station in Kyrgyzstan's presidential election on October 15. (Photo: EurasiaNet/Danil Usmanov)

Vote officials in Kyrgyzstan have released preliminary results showing Sooronbai Jeenbekov as the overwhelming winner of the presidential elections with 55 percent of the ballots cast.

By winning more than half the votes cast, Jeenbekov has avoided the prospect of a second-round runoff against his closest rival, the multimillionaire Omurbek Babanov, who got around 34 percent of the vote.

There had in the final days ahead of the October 15 vote been mounting speculation that neither frontrunner would make it past the 50 percent threshold, making Jeenbekov’s decisive win a surprising result for many.

Jeenbekov was nominated to run in the election by the ruling Social Democratic Party, or SDPK, and had received implicit support from outgoing President Almazbek Atambayev, who is stepping down after his single constitutionally permitted six-year term. His campaign has been predicated in large part on the promise of stability and continuity -- both highly appealing concepts in a country that has known many passages of political turbulence.

It remains uncertain Babanov’s camp intends to accept the result, which his supporters will argue was only made possible through abuse of state resources, without any protest. 

In an assessment provided in the middle of the day, Central Election Commission chairwoman Nurjan Shaildabekova said the election was going quietly and that there was no indication of mass fraud.

“In some polling stations our commission has identified incidents that will be further investigated by law enforcement authorities,” Shaildabekova said.

But Shaildabekova sought to dismiss the validity of numerous claims of wrongdoing circulated by independent media.

“There is a feeling that somebody is trying to whip up the situation, talking about supposed mass violations,” she said.

But civic activist Edil Baisalov, who has been actively fighting in Babanov’s corner while not participating directly in his campaign, suggested Jeenbekov’s victory was suspect in the extreme.

“54 percent for Jeenbekov? The amount of fraud is so great that there is every grounds on which to demand a second round. But this is a decision for Babanov to take,” he wrote on Twitter.

The conversation is likely to continue to be dominated by the role played by what are known euphemistically as “administrative resources.” This terms typically refers to a combination of methods that extends from placing pressure on state workers and university students to vote for the candidate favored by the ruling establishment to the use of state media to favor one side over the other.

International observers are due to release the findings of their monitoring on October 16.

Kyrgyzstan: Ruling Party's Presidential Candidate Bags Shock First-Round Victory

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