Kyrgyz parliamentary election set for December

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BISHKEK, Oct 23 (Reuters) Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev set a snap parliamentary election for December 16 today following a constitutional referendum that extended his authority in the Central Asian state.

Kyrgyzstan's last parliamentary election in early 2005 led to violent protests that toppled long-serving leader Askar Akayev and brought Bakiyev to power.

''Based on this constitution we will find more effective ways of our country's development,'' Bakiyev, himself elected in a 2005 vote judged free and fair by Western monitors, said after formally signing the new constitution into law.

''Today I signed a decree on holding a parliamentary election and set the date for Sunday December 16.'' The United States has criticised Kyrgyzstan for failing to meet international standards in the referendum on Sunday that gave Bakiyev leeway in picking key officials and paved the way for his party to get into parliament.

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe has also expressed concern over reports of ballot-stuffing and other irregularities during the vote.

The impoverished Muslim state, home to a US and a Russian military base, has been volatile since 2005, and Bakiyev's unresolved stand-off with a parliament packed with Akayev-era deputies has fuelled instability.

In Sunday's poll, voters also backed separate amendments changing the election process from a single-constituency system to a proportional all-party list, which should help the pro-president Ak Zhol party gain a footing in parliament.

''These laws were supported by our people,'' Bakiyev said. ''I would like to thank all Kyrgyz citizens for their choice.'' The US embassy in Kyrgyzstan said earlier on Tuesday the referendum ''did not meet the international standards to which the Kyrgyz Republic has committed itself.'' REUTERS SZ PM2025

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