Kyrgyzstan votes in landmark poll

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President Roza Otunbayeva speaks to reporters after voting in Bishkek - 10 October 2010
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President Otunbayeva said the election was a historic day for Kyrgyzstan

People in Kyrgyzstan have voted in a landmark parliamentary election, the first since 400 people died in inter-ethnic violence.

Turnout was reported to be strong across the country, including in the southern city of Osh, which saw some of the worst of last June's clashes.

Six or seven parties are expected to dominate, none with a majority.

The election is being held under a new constitution intended to make the country a parliamentary democracy.

The election commission said turnout was about 43% of Kyrgyzstan's 2.8 million voters.

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

'Historic day'

The BBC's Rayhan Demetrie, in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, says the unpredictability of the outcome makes the election significantly different from every other election that has ever taken place in Central Asia.

It is the first to be held under a new constitution adopted in a June referendum that changed the form of government from a presidential system to a parliamentary democracy.

The country's former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was ousted following a popular uprising in April.

"Today is a historic day for the Republic of Kyrgyzstan," said President Roza Otunbayeva, who came to power in the uprising.

"The people will choose their fate, their future," she said casting her vote.

Many of those who served in Mr Bakiyev's government are now in opposition, with strong support in the country's south - the former president's stronghold.

The cities of Osh and Jalalabad, which saw much of June's ethnic conflict, were under heavy security for the vote.

Hundreds of people, mostly ethnic Uzbeks, died when violence between Uzbeks and ethnic Kyrgyz flared in the region.

The head of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe's election monitors, Janez Lenarcic, said the vote had passed off peacefully.

However, there are fears of protests and violence if political groups do not get the results they are expecting.