Bishkek, Oct 31: The moderate prime minister of Kyrgyzstan claimed a commanding victory in the volatile Central Asian state's first presidential poll since a revolution and deadly ethnic bloodletting last year.
Almazbek Atambayev will now look to smooth over the deep ethnic fissures that fueled the divisive campaign and saw heated challenges from two Kyrgyz nationalists who would have troubled the West if they had won.
A peaceful election would make the strategic nation— the only one to house both a Russian and US military base— the first in authoritarian Central Asian to secure a Western-style transition of power since the USSR's collapse.
But both of the 55-year-old premier's chief rivals gave strong hints that they had no plans to admit defeat despite official results showing a first round victory for Atambayev The central election commission said Atambayev had 65.2 per cent of the vote with 60 per cent of the precincts reporting on turnout that was expected to exceed 60 per cent.
His main rivals in the 16-candidate field—the former boxer Kachimbek Tashiyev and one-time parliament speaker Adakhan Madumarov—trailed with 13.9 and 13.7 per cent.
“Atambayev collected enough votes to win in the first round. We have about a million votes and this is sufficient for a first-round victory,” an official in his campaign office told AFP.
But the campaign team of the boxer Tashiyev accused the authorities of “brazenly making up numbers that are far removed from reality.”
“We do not intend to recognise these elections,” Tashiyev's campaign office said.
The charismatic ex-speaker Madumarov also accused the authorities of overseeing “unprecedented violations”.