More women could emerge as powerful political figures in Kyrgyzstan as the country prepares for weekend elections, a watchdog group says.
Kyrgyzstan has parliamentary elections Sunday, six months after supporters of Roza Otunbayeva overthrew the government of Kurmanbek Bakiyev.
The National Democratic Institute, an election watchdog in Washington, said the electoral system in Kyrgyzstan is set up in such a way that women could take about one-quarter of the 120 seats open in the Kyrgyz parliament.
NDI said the political climate in Bishkek is dominated by men, however. Through its work with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the group said it was working with 24 women activists from eight political parties to advance women's issues in the Central Asian country.
Opposition supporters early Wednesday staged a rally in the capital calling for the return of Bakiyev. The interim government in Kyrgyzstan accuses Bakiyev of stoking ethnic tensions in the south of Kyrgyzstan, his former stronghold.
Otunbayeva had threatened to cancel the vote if ethnic violence between members of the Uzbek and Kyrgyz communities flared up in the south of the country.
Hundreds of people were killed and thousands were displaced in conflicts between the Uzbek and Kyrgyz communities following an April coup.