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Incumbent leads presidential election in exit polls

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Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-07-24

Exit polls showed Kyrgyzstan's incumbent President Kurmanbek Bakiyev leading in the presidential election on Thursday with 67 percent of the vote. Opposition candidate Almazbek Atambayev claimed the election was 'illegal.'

AFP - Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev is set to win re-election with a projected 67 percent of the vote, state television said Thursday, citing an exit poll conducted by a pro-government agency.
  
State-run Channel Five asserted Bakiyev had trounced his main challenger Almazbek Atambayev, who received only 12 percent in an election that the opposition has derided as false and has promised to protest.
  
Polling stations across the mountainous former Soviet republic closed at 8:00 p.m. (1400 GMT) and the Central Election Commission declared a huge turnout of more than 70 percent of registered voters.
  
The endorsement of the exit poll -- conducted by a pro-government NGO called "For Honest Elections" -- by state media all but assures that Bakiyev will be announced the winner when election results are released Friday.
  
But the outcome of the election is far from clear, as opposition leaders have denounced the polls and threatened street protests.
  
After polls closed, some 1,500 opposition supporters gathered at Atambayev's campaign headquarters on the outskirts of Bishkek for a victory concert.
  
They said they planned to hold an unauthorized march to the centre of the city afterwards.
  
The government earlier called in more than 5,000 troops to Bishkek for the election, and Bakiyev issued a stern warning Thursday against attempts to organise illegal protests.
  

Date created : 2009-07-23

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