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Kyrgyz opposition leaders doubt legitimacy of referendum result

Opposition leaders in Kyrgyzstan are wary of the results of a referendum that approved the interim government's plans for a new constitution. Russia, meanwhile, remains skeptical about Kyrgyzstan's aspirations.

The Kyrgyz national flag flies at half staff in front of the statue Lenin

The former Soviet republic is now set for democracy

Opposition leaders said on Monday that they were wary of the results of the weekend referendum, which was hailed by the interim government as an overwhelming display of the country's desire for a new constitution.

Adakhan Madumarov, leader of the Batun Kyrgyzstan party, said the figures were "impossibly high" given the ongoing fallout from deadly ethnic riots that rocked the south of the country earlier this month.

A Kyrgyz man casts his ballot at a polling station in Osh, southern Kyrgyzstan

The election commission said turnout was at 69 percent

Kyrgyzstan's central election commission said that over 90 percent of voters had approved the plan to make the country a parliamentary republic. At this point, over 95 percent of districts in Kyrgyzstan have reported their results, with voter turnout at just under 70 percent.

"I highly doubt that the central election commission's data reflects the real picture, as monitors from our party on the ground give conflicting information," Madumarov said.

The former interior minister and head of the Ata-Zhurt opposition party, Omurbek Suvanaliyev described the figures as fantasy and accused the interim government of "massive falsification" in the registration of voters.

'Overwhelming success'

Interim Kyrgyz leader Roza Otunbayeva said the referendum on Sunday was an overwhelming success, adding that it had taken place without incident.

Kyrgyzstan's interim government leader Rosa Otunbayeva, center

Otunbayeva, center, will stay in power until 2011

"The new constitution has been adopted, despite the savage attacks of its opponents," Otunbayeva told a news conference in the capital, Bishkek.

Otunbayeva remained convinced that the divisions in the country would not get in the way of her interim government's plans for reform.

"Today the people of Kyrgyzstan are voting for stability in the country and the legality of the authorities," Otunbayeva said. "We will show the world that Kyrgyzstan is united."

The interim government defiantly pressed ahead with the vote despite deadly clashes between minority Uzbeks and majority Kyrgyz earlier this month, which sparked fears of a collapse of the country.

Medvedev skeptical

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, speaking after the G20 summit in Toronto, expressed doubt as to whether the country was ready for a parliamentary democracy - or even whether Kyrgyz authorities could impose order at present.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev

Medvedev says Kyrgyzstan is too unstabile for democracy

"In its current state, there are a host of scenarios for Kyrgyzstan, including the most unpleasant scenario - the collapse of the state," Medvedev said.

At least 294 people were killed this month in violence between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in southern Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet republic which hosts US and Russian military air bases and shares a border with China.

Author: Gabriel Borrud (AFP/Reuters)

Editor: Chuck Penfold

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