KYRGYZSTAN’S opposition said yesterday it had taken control of the administration building in a key southern region in protest at last weekend’s parliamentary election, though officials dismissed the occupation as a stunt.
Tension over the election has been high in the Central Asian state after international observers said it fell short of accepted standards.
The disparate opposition has urged its supporters to wear yellow, in conscious imitation of Ukraine’s "orange" revolution which brought a West-leaning liberal to power.
Crowds of angry opposition supporters besieged the regional administration building in Dzhalal Abad, a town of some 150,000 residents about 375 miles south of the capital Bishkek, opposition activist Ishengul Boldzhurova said.
She said: "Around 100 protesters occupied the building, entered the governor’s office and hung posters saying ‘Down with [President Askar] Akayev!’ from its windows."
Boldzhurova said protesters were urging the authorities to cancel the result of the first round of the vote in which ex-prime minister Kurmanbek Bakiev failed to win outright in Dzhalal Abad and now faces a run-off. Boldzhurova said there were 7,000 protesters around the building, but another opposition activist put their number at no more than 1,500.
The vote last Sunday was widely seen as a test of Kyrgyzstan’s ability to stage a clean election eight months before a presidential race that could lead to the first peaceful post-Soviet handover of state power.