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Kyrgyzstan annuls elections after president’s office building stormed

Kyrgyzstan's recent parliamentary elections were annulled by the nation's electoral authority on Tuesday, the state news agency reported, in the wake of the president's office building being stormed by demonstrators.

Kyrgyzstan’s recent parliamentary elections were annulled by the nation’s electoral authority on Tuesday, the state news agency reported, in the wake of the president’s office building being stormed by demonstrators.

Protesters alleged that Sunday’s vote was manipulated to ensure the dominance of political parties loyal to President Sooronbay Jeenbekov.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which had independently monitored the voting, said there were reported irregularities, including “credible allegations of vote-buying.”

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Bishkek after the official results were announced on Monday. Part of the president’s office building was set on fire, state news agency Kabar reported.

Protesters managed to free the country’s former president, Almazbek Atambayev, from custody from a national security committee building, the state news agency reported.

Atambayev, who served as president from 2011 to 2017, was taken into custody last year on corruption allegations that surfaced amid a personal rivalry with his successor, Jeenbekov.

In an address to the nation, Jeenbekov called on Tuesday for a restoration of peace, saying that he had directed law enforcement personnel to refrain from opening fire on civilians.

“I ordered the law enforcement agencies to not open fire or shed blood, so as not to endanger the life of any citizen,” Jeenbekov said, according to a statement posted on his website.

The mayor of Bishkek, Aziz Surakmatov, announced his resignation on Tuesday. The Central Election Commission was expected within the next two weeks to announce a date for new elections.

According to the previous official results, now annulled, the front-runners in the election were two broadly pro-government parties, the democratic socialist Birimdik (Unity) party and the Mekenim Kyrgyzstan (My Homeland Kyrgyzstan) party, each with about a quarter of the votes.

The voting for the 120-seat national parliament was a test of the country’s close ties with regional power Russia, with the Birimdik party, most closely associated with Jeenbekov, touting ties with Russia as part of its campaign pitch.

Kyrgyzstan’s leadership has been reinforcing its relationship with Russia in recent years under the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union and the post-Soviet military alliance of the Collective Security Treaty Organization.

Jeenbekov met Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in the Russian city of Sochi just days before the elections, where he denounced opposition movements that have opposed the close ties as infringing on Kyrgyzstan’s independence.

Russia‘s backing is essential for us. I would like to thank you for this assistance. We have always treasured our historical, time-tested relationship,” Jeenbekov told Putin on September 28, according to an official transcript.

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