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Voters in Kyrgyzstan cast presidential ballots

Most Americans don't even know where Kyrgyzstan is, let alone its outsize role in geopolitics.

AP reports:

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan — Voters in the turbulent Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan cast their ballots Sunday in a presidential election that could set a democratic example for authoritarian neighbors.

While international observers have hailed the wide range of candidates on offer and recent improvements to electoral legislation, there are concerns that the vote could ignite inter regional tensions.

Kyrgyzstan, an impoverished nation of around 5 million people on China's western fringes, is home to both U.S. and Russian military air bases, making its fortunes the subject of lively international interest.

 

Related: New York Times piece on the proposed "Eurasian Union," Kyrgyzstan Votes for a President, Feeling the Pull of Russia

Shamil Zhumatov / Reuters

Voters study their ballots in a school gymnasium turned into a local polling station in the village of Gulbakhor outside the southern city of Osh, Oct. 30. Kyrgyzstan aims to complete bold reforms to create Central Asia's first parliamentary democracy when it votes on Sunday to elect a new president capable of bridging the divisions that threaten stability in the strategic ex-Soviet state.

 


Vyacheslav Oseledko / AFP - Getty Images

An elderly woman heads toward a polling station (not pictured) in the village of Kyzyl Birlik, some 20 km outside the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek, on Oct. 30.

Igor Kovalenko / EPA

A cat resting next to a portable ballot box yawns during early Kyrgyzstan presidential voting at a house in the village of Strelnikovo some 25 km from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan Oct. 29.

Shamil Zhumatov / Reuters

A man wearing Kyrgyz national hat sits next to portraits of presidential candidates at a local polling station in the southern city of Osh, Oct. 29.

Shamil Zhumatov / Reuters

Members of a local electoral commission sing the national anthem after closing a poll at a polling station in the southern city of Osh, Oct. 30.

Shamil Zhumatov / Reuters

Members of a local electoral commission empty a ballot box after closing a poll at a polling station in the southern city of Osh, Oct. 30.