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Early Results Show Jeenbekov Leading Vote Count In Kyrgyz Presidential Election

Preliminary results from Kyrgyzstan's presidential election indicate that Sooronbai Jeenbekov, a political ally of incumbent President Almazbek Atambaev, is leading with more than 50 percent of the vote.

First official results are expected at 10 p.m. local time (1600 GMT), two hours after polls were closed.

The vote could result in the first peaceful transfer of power from one popularly elected president to another in Central Asia since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

While dirty tricks, arrests, and the alleged abuse of the levers of power cast a pall over the campaign, a smooth election and orderly succession would bolster Kyrgyzstan’s credentials as an island of democracy in the region’s authoritarian sea.

A total of 11 candidates, including one woman, are vying to replace President Almazbek Atambaev, who is constitutionally barred from running for a second consecutive six-year term.

The three leading contenders - Omurbek Babanov, Temir Sariev, and Jeenbekov -- were all prime ministers during Atambaev's term in office, raising expectations of policy continuity in a country that has to balance the often-competing interests between neighbors Russia and China.


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