Bishkek [Kyrgyzstan], January 10 (ANI/Sputnik): Kyrgyzstan is heading to the polls on Sunday to vote both in the snap presidential race and a referendum on the form of government after the October post-election unrest ousted the previous leader.
Over 2,400 poll places are set to open at 8 a.m. local time (02:00 GMT) across the country and continue to work until 10:00 p.m. Another 48 polling sites, including 15 in Russia, will open their doors abroad.
To minimize people-to-people contacts amid the pandemic, polling station employees have been tasked with ensuring that voters maintain social distancing and providing them with face masks and sanitizers. Polling places will also be disinfected every few hours.
Over 3.5 million Kyrgyz people are eligible to cast their ballots in Sunday's race. Unlike in the October 4 parliamentary elections, people will be allowed to vote only in precincts where they live -- a measure meant to prevent mass vote-buying.
Security agencies are bracing to ensure order and not to allow a repeat of the October violence, which prompted then-President Sooronbay Jeenbekov to resign over contentious election results and brought nationalist politician Sadyr Japarov to power. Amid the turmoil, the latter took over as both president and prime minister.
Along with Japarov, who stepped down in mid-November to run in the race, another 16 people are vying for the presidency. Among them is former parliament speaker Kanat Isayev; the leader of the opposition Butun (United) Kyrgyzstan party, Adakhan Madumarov; former Deputy Interior Minister Kursan Asanov; ex-chairman of the State Committee for National Security, Abdil Segizbayev; as well as Klara Sooronkulova, a former judge of the Constitutional Chamber and the only woman on the ballot.
A number of ex-lawmakers and businessmen will also compete for the top office. If none of the candidates garners over 50 percent of the vote, the country will see a runoff.
In an interview to Sputnik, Sooronkulova has expressed doubt that the country would see fair elections.
"It is clear who has advantages, and he uses them. He is the prime minister, he served as acting president, he has put his people everywhere," the candidate argued.
Along with the presidential election, Kyrgyz people will vote in a referendum to choose between the existing parliamentary system and a presidential one. The vote has a 30 percent turnout threshold to be deemed valid. (ANI/Sputnik)