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Supporters of Kyrgyzstan’s main opposition candidate in the country’s presidential election protested after polls closed alleging voter fraud. Police were called to disperse the 2,000 strong crowd in the capital, Bishkek. The former Soviet state’s central electoral commission has ruled the vote valid despite the calls for a re-run.

Earlier, the man leading the opposition camp, Almazbek Atambayev, dramatically withdrew from the election after casting his vote. He claimed there was evidence of absentee ballot fraud and harassment at polling stations. With the count underway, a representative for the OSCE, which monitors elections, expressed concerns that during the campaign the media was strongly in favour of one candidate. Exit polls point to a decisive win by the incumbent President Kurmanbek Bakiyev. He looks set to take around 67 percent of the vote. Kyrghyzstan is the focus of super power rivalry in Central Asia, hosting American and Russian military bases. Its stability is seen as vital in the struggle against the spread of militant Islam.

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