Kyrgyzstan sets July date for presidential poll | world | Hindustan Times
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Kyrgyzstan sets July date for presidential poll

The Kyrgyz parliament voted overwhelmingly on Friday to hold presidential elections in July, setting up a showdown between President Kurmanbek Bakiyev and an increasingly vocal opposition.

world Updated: Mar 20, 2009 12:40 IST

The Kyrgyz parliament voted overwhelmingly on Friday to hold presidential elections in July, setting up a showdown between President Kurmanbek Bakiyev and an increasingly vocal opposition.

The parliament approved a proposal to hold elections on July 23, with 80 votes in favour and one abstention.

The vote came one day after the Central Asian state's constitutional court ruled that presidential elections must be held before the end of October, settling a dispute arising from the political turbulence of recent years.

"People should know when the next elections will be held," lawmaker Asilbek Zhenbekov told reporters after the vote.

"When four years have elapsed in the administration of the president and a fifth is beginning and people don't know when elections will be held, it's not normal."

The ambiguity stemmed from a 2007 change to the constitution on the timing of presidential votes. It had been unclear if Bakiyev, who swept to power in a 2005 uprising, should face re-election under the old rules or the new ones.

Bakiyev earlier supported holding elections in 2010, but political experts suspected he had changed his mind, seeing a better chance of winning re-election if the vote were earlier.

Political tensions in the impoverished ex-Soviet republic have surged in recent weeks, following a series of arrests and attacks on journalists, activists and politicians linked to the anti-Bakiyev opposition.

Last month the Kyrgyz parliament, with the president's support, voted to expel a US airbase used to supply Western forces in neighbouring Afghanistan.