Jeenbekov leading vote count in Kyrgyzstan presidential election

BISHKEK (TCA) — First official results from today’s presidential election in Kyrgyzstan announced at 10 p.m. local time, two hours after polls were closed, show that Sooronbai Jeenbekov, a political ally of incumbent President Almazbek Atambayev, is leading with more than 50 percent of the vote.

According to the Central Election Commission, 55.93 percent of the eligible voters had cast their ballots and 97 percent of the ballots had been processed as of 10 pm local time.

Jeenbekov had won 54.73 percent of the votes, his main rival Omurbek Babanov 33.83 percent, Adakhan Madumarov 6.46 percent, and Temir Sariyev 2.56 percent.

The vote could result in the first peaceful transfer of power from one popularly elected president to another in Central Asia since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service reports. While dirty tricks, arrests, and the alleged abuse of the levers of power cast a pall over the campaign, a smooth election and orderly succession would bolster Kyrgyzstan’s credentials as an island of democracy in the region’s authoritarian sea.

A total of 11 candidates, including one woman, participated in the election to replace President Almazbek Atambayev, who is constitutionally barred from running for a second consecutive six-year term.

Jeenbekov, a 58-year-old political ally of Atambayev, has used his political leverage and support from the incumbent to wage a heated battle with 47-year-old Babanov, a wealthy entrepreneur and former oil trader from the north.

Speaking at a polling station in Bishkek, Jeenbekov said he had “cast a vote for stability” and that he will continue the president’s work.

“My main goal is to strengthen the things that have already been achieved and to implement a new stage of reform,” he added.

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Times of Central Asia