Kyrgyzstan on alert to avoid poll violence: president

7th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Kyrgyzstan is on high alert to avoid any upsurge of violence ahead of parliamentary elections, President Roza Otunbayeva said Thursday, as the country struggles to recover from ethnic bloodshed.

In an interview with the Russian Izvestia daily, Otunbayeva said every branch of law enforcement had been mobilised to keep peace during Sunday's vote, describing the situation in the Central Asian state as "critical".

"We have not only the police but every part of the law enforcement agencies mobilised. We have it all activated in order to keep everything under control," she told the newspaper.

"This isn't some kind of ordinary situation. It's a critical situation."

The vote aims to create Central Asian's first parliamentary democracy, despite warnings from Kyrgyzstan's ex-Soviet neighbours that such a regime would prove too weak in a country still reeling from a bloody coup and ethnic violence that left hundreds dead and thousands homeless.

Otunbayeva, who took power after bloody April street protests, has steadfastly refused to postpone the elections, downplaying reports Thursday that politicians have been stoking the ethnic tensions for political gain.

"Of course, all these feelings are overflowing," she told Izvestia. "We had an inter-ethnic conflict. A very serious conflict. People were killed, houses burned. People lived through a colossal stress."

A vibrant parliamentary democracy, she insisted, was the best model to help the troubled state out of conflict and all the political parties participating were interested in a peaceful vote.

"We think that, in such a post-conflict society, dialogue will be very important to our efforts," Otunbayeva said.

"Everyone is now interested in forming the new government -- one chosen by the people. So, I think that we are all interested in the peaceful passage of these elections and in their peaceful outcome."

© 2010 AFP

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