Kyrgyzstan Votes For New Parliament

(Source : voanews) Kyrgyzstan has conducted parliamentary elections in an effort to find a winning political formula for Central Asia's most politically unstable nation. Usually governments in Kyrgyzstan change with the rattle of gunfire. But today, voters tried a new way - the rustle of paper ballots. With the vote, Kyrgyzstan embarks on an experiment in parliamentary democracy in a region marked by authoritarian, one man rule. Six months after a street revolution swept away an entrenched dictator, Kyrgyz voted among 29 parties to elect a new parliament. Parties in this 120-member parliament are to form a ruling coalition and choose a new prime minister. After voting, interim Kyrgyzstan President Roza Otunbaeva dismissed worries about future political gridlock. "I am sure that we will have a stable government that will lead the country forward," he said. Ms. Otunbaeva took power after a street revolution in April overthrew President Kurmanbek Bakiev, the second such street uprising in five years. In June, inter-ethnic violence claimed hundreds of lives in southern Kyrgyzstan. In response to a question from VOA, Ms. Otunbaeva said the election law required inclusion of ethnic minorities on party candidate lists. During the campaign, she said, parties courted ethnic votes, including those of Uzbeks in southern Kyrgyzstan. Voters turned out peacefully across the nation, including in Osh, southern Kyrgyzstan's largest city and the scene of most of the inter-ethnic fighting. Votes were cast by 55 percent of the nation's 2.8-million eligible voters. In addition to political instability, a major issue weighing on voters was the poor shape of the landlocked nation's economy. According to the International Monetary Fund, Kyrgyzstan is the only country in the former Soviet Union that will register negative economic growth this year.