Kyrgyzstan election: Sunday’s outcomes annulled after mass protests

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The electoral authorities in Kyrgyzstan have declared the results of the parliamentary elections null and void after violent protests.

Protesters broke into parliament overnight and clashed with police to demand a new vote.

Hundreds have been injured and one person has died, the Ministry of Health said.

The election commission’s move came shortly after President Sooronbai Jeenbekov accused “political forces” of illegally attempting to take power.

Protests erupted after only four out of 16 political parties crossed the threshold for entry into parliament in Sunday’s elections. Three of the four are closely associated with President Jeenbekov.

In addition to parliament, the demonstrators stormed other government buildings and freed a number of high-profile prisoners.

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In a video address on Tuesday, President Jeenbekov accused “certain political forces” of using the election results as a cause for “violating public order”. “They disobeyed law enforcement officers, beat up medical workers and damaged buildings.”

He said he had “so far … taken all possible measures to prevent the situation from escalating” and urged the opposition parties to “reassure their supporters and remove them from areas of the rally.”

He also said he proposed a thorough investigation of all election violations. A short time later, the Central Election Commission declared that it had “declared the election results to be invalid”.

How did the violence develop?

Around 5,000 people gathered on Monday in Ala-Too Square in the capital Bishkek to demonstrate against the election results.

The protest was largely peaceful until a smaller group broke off in the evening and tried to break through the gates to the parliament building, reported Almaz Tchoroev of the BBC from the scene.

Media signatureThousands of demonstrators took to the streets in the capital, Bishkek

Police then used water cannons, stun grenades and tear gas to remove the crowd from the main square and the surrounding streets.

Protesters later flocked back to the central square before storming the parliament building known as the White House.

Video shared on social media showed opposition protesters gaining access to the complex, some by climbing fences and others by opening the main gates. Smoke could later be seen rising from the building.

The protesters also released detained opposition officials, including former Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison for corruption.

The Ministry of Health said nearly 700 people were injured, nine in intensive care, and a 19-year-old man was killed.

What do we know about the choice?

Of 16 parties vying for the 120 seats in the Supreme Council, only four parties exceeded the 7% threshold for elections.

The two parties Birimdik and Mekenim Kyrgyzstan, which each received a quarter of the vote, are closely linked to President Jeenbekov, who was elected in 2017.

Image rightsReutersImage descriptionTwo parties closely associated with President Sooronbai Jeenbekov each received 25% of the vote

None of the established opposition parties secured a seat in parliament, and on Monday all 12 opposition groups jointly declared that they would not recognize the results of the vote.

They accused parties close to the president of buying votes and intimidating voters – claims by international observers are “credible” and cause “serious concern”.

Some observers said they saw in the first hours of the vote that some citizens with marked masks were given ballot papers filled out.

Kyrgyzstan – five quick facts

  • Second smallest of five Central Asian states bordering Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and China
  • Was known as the Kara-Kyrgyz Autonomous Region as part of the Soviet Union
  • Got its current name after the declaration of independence in 1991
  • Previous uprisings removed President Askar Akayev from power in 2005 and ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiyev in 2010
  • Has a reputation for holding semi-free and fair elections compared to its neighbors

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