European observers said on Monday vote-buying and significant procedural problems marred Kyrgyzstan’s presidential vote, though they praised the move towards an orderly transfer of power in the volatile ex-Soviet state. Sooronbai Jeenbekov, a protege of the outgoing president, won on Sunday with 55 percent – a stronger result than the near tie polls had predicted. Opposition leader Omurbek Babanov conceded defeat but said he would investigate irregularities. The election is seen as a test of stability in the central Asian country where Russia still holds considerable sway and two previous leaders were ousted in violent riots. Kyrgyz news website Turmush.kg published a video showing hundreds of Babanov supporters rallying outside a local government building in his home Talas region. But there were no reports of violence.
The vote was competitive and candidates could, in general, campaign freely, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said. But cases of misuse of public resources, pressure on voters and vote-buying remained a concern, it added.
The mission’s statement mentioned “numerous and significant procedural problems” during the vote count and initial stages of tabulation. But it said the election had “contributed to the strengthening of democratic institutions by providing for an orderly transfer of power”.