Kyrgyz opposition protests flawed poll

Kyrgyzstan Materials 21 December 2007 12:53 (UTC +04:00)

( Reuters ) - Kyrgyz opposition party Ata Meken staged small-scale street protests on Friday after failing to win seats in parliament in Sunday's snap election.

President Kurmanbek Bakiyev's Ak Zhol party won the most seats in the volatile Central Asian state's parliament in a vote criticized by Western observers.

Ata Meken failed to win seats because of a regional minimum-vote barrier, according to final figures made public on Thursday, despite taking the second highest number of votes in the election.

"The elections have not been fair," Ata Meken leader Omurbek Tekebayev said at a gathering in the city centre.

"Opposition parties were supported by the majority of the population, but the authorities have rigged the results."

Police detained about 40 protesters out of less than a hundred, but did not approach Tekebayev, who walked away after his speech.

Earlier on Friday three members of the Central Election Commission said they had not been allowed into their offices after challenging vote results.

"They consider us opposition now, but we just think the law should be observed strictly," said Akylbek Sariyev, one of the three barred commission members.

The 13-member electoral authority was not available for comment.