Kyrgyzstan heading for coalition government

Kyrgyz election committee count ballots at a polling station in Bishkek
Image caption The poll was held under a new constitution intended to make the country a parliamentary democracy

Kyrgyzstan's parliamentary election has failed to produce a clear winner, which means that parties will now have to unite to form a coalition government.

The opposition nationalist party Ata Zhurt is the front-runner. It includes allies of ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who was removed in April.

The pro-government Social Democrats and three other parties passed the 5% mark required to gain seats in parliament.

The vote comes months after 400 people died in inter-ethnic violence.

Turnout was 56% nationwide and even higher in the southern city of Osh, which saw some of the worst of June's clashes between the Kyrgyz majority and ethnic Uzbeks.

Coalition cabinet

Five out of 29 parties passed the threshold to win seats in the new parliament, but none won enough to form a government.

Election officials said there were a number of "insignificant" voting violations, plus two alleged cases of ballot stuffing.

But the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which sent about 250 observers, hailed the poll saying there had been a wide choice of candidates.

It also said that the Kyrgyz vote set a good example to neighbouring countries in Central Asia.

Now the parties will have to decide with whom they want to form a coalition.

The BBC's Rayhan Demytrie in Bishkek says the emergence of the Ata Zhurt party as a front-runner will surprise many in Kyrgyzstan.

The party has strong backing in the south among ethnic Kyrgyz and it wants to go back to a presidential form of government.

In June a new constitution introducing a parliamentary system was approved in a referendum, following the ousting of President Bakiyev in an uprising in April.

The outcome of this election is being closely watched by Russia and the US, which both have military bases in the country.

The vote took place after six months of political turmoil and there are fears that more violence is likely if political factions do not agree with the outcome, our correspondent adds.

More on this story