-- Acting president Kurmanbek Bakiyev won a landslide victory in Sunday's vote to name a successor to Askar Akayev, the autocratic president who fled Kyrgyzstan after a sudden revolt three months ago.
Election commission figures showed Bakiyev had almost 89 percent of the vote, with more than 70 percent of the 1.9 million ballots counted. The vote gives an electoral mandate to Bakiyev, who helped lead the movement against tainted elections that drove Akayev from power.
"These elections are unique, because for the first time since independence they present a genuine choice in the most accurate sense of this word," Bakiyev said after casting his ballot in the capital. "No one was pressed or told how to vote."
The election was being closely monitored by observers from more than 100 countries and some 3,000 independent domestic monitors, who planned to announce their assessments starting Monday.
Despite scattered complaints from monitors on Sunday, the campaign leading up to the ballot appeared to be significantly cleaner than the parliamentary elections held in February and March.
Those elections, which European observers characterized as seriously flawed, sparked the street protests that toppled Akayev when demonstrators swept over the White House in Bishkek on March 24.
Allegations of irregularities surfaced Sunday, but it was not immediately clear how serious they were or who was to blame. Nationwide turnout was reported to be 74 percent, with a high of 90 percent in some districts. Government officials used administrative resources such as city buses to get out to vote.
"Seems like there's been some shenanigans, but it's hard to know if it's been ordered or is just old habits," said an international observer in Jalalabad province, Bakiyev's home base, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to a reporter.
Bakiyev and his running mate, Felix Kulov, a former mayor of Bishkek and recently released political prisoner, maintained that overzealous government officials were repeating old behaviors against the wishes of the candidates.
"Our teachers locked us in the classroom and said you will not leave until you sign a paper saying you will vote for Bakiyev," said Olga, 17, a student at the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University who asked that her last name be withheld from publication because she feared retribution.
"I said I'm not 18 yet so I can't vote. The teacher said, 'It doesn't matter. We need the quantity.' " The incident recalled the parliamentary campaign, when university officials openly pressured students to support the candidacy of Akayev's daughter, Bermet.
"The dean asked, "Who would not vote for Bermet?' " said Bakit Alimkulov, a student at Kyrgyzstan National University. "A girl immediately raised her hand and was taken out of the classroom."