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14 Nov 2011

The Kyrgyzstani Presidential Elections: Atambayev’s Challenges

Elmira Satybaldieva

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After much anticipation and anxiety about the presidential elections in Kyrgyzstan, there is a feeling of relief that Almazbek Atambaev won the contest with an overwhelming majority, making a second round of elections unnecessary. The presidential race passed off without violence and unrest, which many in Kyrgyzstan consider an achievement in itself. The scale of Atambaev’s majority took many commentators by surprise as some had predicted a low turnout and a strong oppositional challenge. But according to the Central Electoral Commission, the turnout was 61.28 percent and Atambaev gained 63 percent of the votes. The elections were observed by 792 international observers from 56 countries. Although international observers have criticized electoral irregularities, pointing to incomplete voter registrations and ballot stuffing, overall the elections were assessed as encouraging.