Nationalists Have Narrow Lead In Tight Kyrgyz Poll

The nationalist Ata Zhurt party has a narrow lead in the Kyrgyz parliamentary election, early results show. With nearly 50% of the votes counted, the party has secured about 9%, election officials say. Four other parties were close behind in the race for 120 seats in parliament. Six or seven parties are expected to dominate, none with a majority. Sunday's election was the first since 400 people died in inter-ethnic violencein Kyrgyzstan in June. Turnout was reported to be strong across the country, including in the southern city of Osh, which saw some of the worst of last June's clashes between the Kyrgyz majority and ethnic Uzbeks. The election was held under a new constitution intended to move the country from a presidential system to parliamentary democracy. Election officials said there were a number of "insignificant" voting violations, plus two alleged cases of ballot stuffing. The election commission said on Monday that Ata Zhurt was just ahead in the vote with about 9%.The pro-government Social Democrats stayed close behind at just over 8%, while three other parties secured more than 6% of the vote each. In all, 29 parties are competing in the election. The country's former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was ousted following a popular uprising in April. Many of those who served in Mr Bakiyev's government are now in opposition, with strong support in the country's south - the former president's stronghold. The BBC's Rayhan Demetrie, in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, says the unpredictability of the outcome makes the election significantly different from every other election that has ever taken place in Central Asia.