Kyrgyzstan

UNDP urges free, fair election in Kyrgyzstan, Sunday, calls vote critical for all of Central Asia

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Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, 8 July 2005 - United Nations officials today expressed hopes for a free, fair and transparent election in Kyrgyzstan this Sunday, emphasizing the importance of peaceful democratic transition not just for Kyrgyzstan, but for all of Central Asia.

The presidential elections of 10 July were organized in just three months, following the resignation of former President Akaev in April.

"Kyrgyzstan is at a turning point," said Jerzy Skuratowicz, the UN Resident Coordinator in Kyrgyzstan. "There is an urgent need to bring stability to the country and to strengthen national institutions through free and fair elections. We are gratified that the campaign has been conducted peacefully and in a spirit of constructive democratic debate, and we call on all candidates and parties to ensure that the election takes place in a similarly peaceful atmosphere and in strict adherence to the rule of law."

In partnership with others in the international community, UNDP has provided support to help Kyrgyzstan meet international standards for free and fair elections, including extensive voter education efforts through the national media. UN officials in Bishkek are heartened by the large number of national and international election observers who have volunteered to monitor the balloting Sunday, in what is expected to be the fairest and most competitive election in the country's history.

If successful, Sunday's election will have positive repercussions throughout Central Asia, a region of intertwined cultures and countries with a shared stake in regional economic development and in peaceful, stable political evolution, UNDP officials said.

"A successful election in Kyrgyzstan will contribute greatly to political stability throughout the region, which is essential for Central Asia's long-term development," said Kalman Mizsei, UN Assistant Secretary General and Director of UNDP's Bureau for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). "Central Asia will flourish only if countries of the region co-operate with one another and encourage the free movement of people, of goods, and of knowledge among themselves, with their neighbors, and with the rest of the world. "

Central Asia - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan - is home to almost 60 million people. The land-locked countries of this region are the focus of intense international attention because of their geopolitical importance and economic potential, and because of their currently unsettled political situation. Recent outbreaks of violence in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan have underscored the danger that political instability could undermine progress towards development and poverty alleviation, UNDP officials stressed.

For further information, including interviews with Jerzy Skuratowicz or Kalman Mizsei please contact: Olga Grebennikova (Bishkek) at tel: 996-312-611-213 or 996-502-512-299 or Gulden Turkoz-Cosslett (NY) at 212-906-5761 or 914-907-8816.