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Kyrgyzstan's parliament voted on Friday to hold presidential elections
Kyrgyzstan's parliament voted on Friday to hold presidential elections in the former Soviet republic on July 23, 2009.

A total of 79 lawmakers from the 90-member parliament voted in favor of the proposal. Only 80 MPs were present at the vote.

Incumbent President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who won early elections in July 2005 and whose term expires this October, came to power on the back of mass protests that toppled the landlocked Central Asian state's long-serving leader, Askar Akayev.

Bakiyev, who is widely seen as the likely winner of the July polls, was elected for four years, but the constitution has since been amended to extend the term of office by 12 months. In connection with this, the Constitutional Court ruled on Thursday that the polls must be held before October 25, rather than next year.

The opposition has accused the authorities of a clampdown on Bakiyev's rivals and is planning nationwide protests next week to demand the president's resignation.

Kyrgyzstan was recently granted more than $2 billion in aid by Russia. However, both countries denied that the financial assistance was linked to a decision to close a mainly U.S.-run airbase to the north of the capital. The airbase has been used since 2001 to support NATO operations in nearby Afghanistan.


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