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Establishment parties sweep Kyrgyzstan's election

BISHKEK (Reuters) - Two establishment parties looked set to dominate Kyrgyzstan’s parliament after Sunday’s election, but it remained unclear if they could form a grand coalition after a series of internal rifts plagued the previous ruling alliance.

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The Birimdik (Unity) party of President Sooronbai Jeenbekov’s closest supporters led the count with 24.53% of the vote, according to preliminary data published by the Central Asian country’s election authority.

Just behind it with 22.2% was Mekenim Kyrgyzstan (My Motherland Kyrgyzstan), whose ticket includes former coalition members and ex-opposition MPs, and which has avoided positioning itself as either allied with or opposed to the president.

Just four parties out of 16 contesting 120 seats in the single-chamber parliament appeared to have crossed the 7% barrier for election, the two others being Kyrgyzstan and Butun Kyrgyzstan.

But three parties that failed to clear the threshold denounced the results on Sunday evening, two of them staging a brief protest on the central square of capital Bishkek which they said would continue on Monday.

“We the Social Democrats political party state that we have received evidence of hundreds of mass violations during the electoral process,” said a splinter group of the former ruling coalition.

Observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe were due to deliver their assessment of the vote on Monday.

While Birimdik’s ticket includes Jeenbekov’s brother Asylbek, Mekenim Kyrgyzstan has drawn attention by including on its list Iskender Matraimov, who, according to observers, represents another powerful local clan.

“The main conflict in this election is that between the Jeenbekov and Matraimov clans, which is played out through the competition of the parties they are backing,” said Central Asia-focused analyst Alexander Knyazev.

While the clans have avoided public confrontation, there was a risk of greater tension if Mekenim Kyrgyzstan supporters viewed the election results as too skewed in favour of the president’s allies, he said.

The country of 6.5 million people has a history of political turmoil: in the past 15 years, two presidents have been toppled by revolts and a third is in prison after falling out with his successor.

Further instability would be a concern to Russia. Moscow operates a military air base in the former Soviet republic and is already dealing with major crises involving its allies Belarus and Armenia.

Reporting by Olga Dzyubenko; Additional reporting by Mariya Gordeyeva in Almaty; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Giles Elgood and Frances Kerry

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