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MOSCOW, July 23 (RIA Novosti) - Exit polls gave incumbent President Kurmanbek Bakiyev a solid lead in Kyrgyzstan's presidential elections with 67% of the vote, against 12.7% for his main opponent, Almazbek Atambayev.
Pollsters from Kazakhstan's sociological service along with nongovernmental Kyrgyz social fund Bashtama, who interviewed a total of 4,712 people in all regions of the Central Asian state, said the four other candidates received from 1% to 6% of the vote.
Vote counting was already underway and the country's Central Election Commission chairman said preliminary election results would be announced on Friday morning.
"Tomorrow at about 11:00 a.m. [5:00 a.m. GMT] we will announce the data on returns that have been submitted to the Central Election Commission," Damir Lisovsky said.
Final turnout figures had not been announced, but almost 2.9 million people, or 73% of the electorate, had cast their ballot by 18:00 local time (12:00 GMT), two hours before polls closed. The election was declared valid by the Central Election Commission earlier in the day when turnout passed the 50% threshold.
About 400 supporters of the leading opposition candidate Almazbek Atambayev, who withdrew from the vote on Thursday claiming fraud, have gathered for a concert organized near his campaign headquarters in the capital, Bishkek.
"We consider the election illegitimate and are refusing to take part in it," Atambayev said on Thursday afternoon at a joint news conference with independent candidate Zhenishbek Nazarliyev.
He said he planned to hold a rally of his supporters after the concert. A RIA Novosti correspondent reported from the venue that the situation was calm, but minibuses and cars with more people were arriving.
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