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Kyrgyzstan observers say vote peaceful

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • More than 90 percent voted for constitution
  • However, counting was not as efficient , and logistical challenges remain
  • April death toll rises to 294

(CNN) -- International observers hailed the vote in Kyrgyzstan as peaceful on Monday, a day after citizens overwhelmingly approved a new constitution in a nationwide referendum.

More than 90 percent of voters cast ballots in favor of the constitution, government officials said, despite fear sparked by riots in April that led to the ousting of President Kurmanbek Bakiev.

Bakiev is in exile in Belarus.

Voting was orderly in most polling stations, observers said. However, the counting was not as efficient, and some stations had logistical challenges, according to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

Some voters were not always checked for ink to ensure they did not cast ballots more than once, observers said.

"Considering the extremely difficult environment in which the referendum took place only weeks after the violence in Osh and Jalal-Abad, the provisional government and other authorities should be commended for organizing a remarkably peaceful process," said Ambassador Boris Frlec, head of the observation mission.

It will not be an interim but a legal and legitimate government. We are leaving the word interim behind.
--Roza Otunbeava, Kyrgyz government's interim head
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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said he is doubtful whether a model of parliamentary republic would work in Kyrgyzstan, but added that it is the country's interior affair.

The Kyrgyz government's interim head, Roza Otunbayeva, said the referendum took place without any reported incidents, paving the way for democratic rule, according to the official Kabar news agency .

"We believe the referendum is valid. The new constitution of the Kyrgyz Republic has been approved," Otunbayeva said.

"It will not be an interim but a legal and legitimate government," she added. "We are leaving the word interim behind."

Omurbek Suvanaliev, leader of Ata-Jurt opposition party, decried the results of the referendum.

"Our party has already told that ... the draft constitution would collect as much percentage as the interim government would need," Suvanaliev said. "We consider that the referendum has been held with violations ..."

Kyrgyzstan -- a multiethnic, landlocked nation in Central Asia -- saw an outbreak of riots in April that killed at least 294 people, the official 24.kg news agency said, citing the country's Health Ministry.

Most of the violence was centered in Osh, where the situation was tense Sunday and some polling stations and businesses had closed.

More than half a million people -- about a tenth of the nation's total population -- were displaced, many taking refuge in neighboring Uzbekistan. More than 1,300 houses were burned.

CNN's Brian Walker contributed to this report.