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Tension as Kyrgyzstan prepares to vote

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Tension as Kyrgyzstan prepares to vote


Kyrgyzstan goes to the polls on Sunday in elections that many hope will transform the country into the most stable parliamentary democracy in ex-Soviet central Asia.

But at the same time there are fears it could highlight ethnic divisions that brought violent blood-letting earlier this year.

President Roza Otunbayeva has urged ethnic Uzbeks in the south of Kyrgyzstan to make sure they are represented in parliament.

Until June, the country had been used to the authoritarian presidential system typical of the region. Since then parliament has assumed many presidential powers, a fact that has been applauded by the United States but denounced as dangerous by Russia. Both countries have army bases in Kyrgyzstan.

Violence in June between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz left at least 400 people dead and residual tensions have been brought to the fore during the election campaign.

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