Thousands protest over Kyrgyzstan election result

Thousands protest over Kyrgyzstan election result
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Media captionThousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets of the capital Bishkek

Protests have erupted in Kyrgyzstan over allegations of vote-rigging in Sunday's parliamentary election.

The capital Bishkek saw the largest protest while rallies were also held elsewhere in the ex-Soviet republic.

Police have used force to disperse demonstrators, including stun grenades, tear gas and water cannon.

Only four parties out of 16 passed the 7% threshold for entry into parliament, three of which have close ties to President Sooronbai Jeenbekov.

International monitors have said the claims of vote-buying and intimidation are "credible" and a cause for "serious concern".

Meanwhile the country's opposition parties have declared that they will not recognise the results of the election.

Opposition candidates are calling on the Central Electoral Commission in Kyrgyzstan to cancel the results of the vote.

One candidate, Ryskeldi Mombekov, told a crowd of more than 5,000 protesters: "The president promised to oversee honest elections. He didn't keep his word."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Two parties with close ties to President Sooronbai Jeenbekov each took 25% of the vote

Mr Mombekov's party, Ata Meken, had been confident of entering parliament, but in the end it was one of the eight parties that missed the threshold.

Ata Meken leader Janar Akaev has been injured in the protests.

Protesters are also calling on President Jeenbekov to resign.

Thomas Boserup, head of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe's election observation mission, said in a briefing that although the vote had been "generally well organised", allegations of vote buying were a "serious concern".

How the protests escalated

Almaz Tchoroev, BBC News, Bishkek

The police are using water cannon, stun grenades and tear gas on demonstrators.

They first used force to disperse protesters in the main square, but as the crowds have moved into other streets in Bishkek, the police have continued to go after them.

Reports are also coming in of injuries - both among the protesters and the police. One opposition leader, Janar Akaev, is among those injured.

There were about 5,000 people protesting in Ala-Too Square, and the demonstration was largely peaceful for most of the day. But at about 20:10 local time (14:10 GMT), a smaller group of protesters splintered off and went to the parliamentary building, known as the White House. When they got there they reportedly tried to break into the gates of the building.

This is what triggered the police response. The police had said that they wouldn't interfere in the protests as long as they stayed peaceful - but this was seen as a provocative act.

The two leading parties, which got a quarter of the vote each, were Birimdik and Mekenim Kyrgyzstan.

President Jeenbekov's younger brother, Asylbek Jeenbekov, is in Birimdik.

Mekenim Kyrgyzstan, meanwhile, is seen as being closely connected to the powerful Matraimov family. The family's figurehead, Rayimbek Matraimov, was the target of anti-corruption protests last year and is believed to have helped finance Mr Jeenbekov's successful presidential campaign in 2017.

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