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BISHKEK, December 6 (TCA) — A thousand observers from all parties benefitted from training prior to November 25 local elections in Kyrgyzstan, thanks to a US development organization.

The International Republican Institute (IRI) completed a program that ensured local observers of all parties knew how to observe elections, and with training in electoral law, as part of its remit to support the development of democratic institutions in the country.

Ahead of the elections, the IRI also worked with parties from across the political spectrum on good ways to communicate with electors, such as making use of effective door-to-door canvassing to enable not only candidates but also incumbents to explain their policies and why they deserve a citizen's vote.

Pilot projects in two cities, Tokmok and Jalalabad, have been established where the IRI is helping to enable local government to better explain services provided, as distinct from regional offices of central government, potentially through publications and municipal websites.

Jason Smart, IRI Resident Country Director, said: "Some citizens aren't necessarily as informed of all the services that local government provides as they might be, which can be for a number of reasons. If they have a cause for concern they'd go to the Mayor of where they live, and we're working with the offices of mayors in the two pilot cities to help citizens be better informed about who they should contact, and who is most appropriate to address their concerns."

Another project is exploring the establishment of one-stop-shops, bringing several local government services under one roof for citizens to save them having to travel about their city from one municipal office to another.

The IRI is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Endowment for Democracy, and has worked in Kyrgyzstan since 2004 to support the development of democratic institutions. It opened its first regional office in Osh during 2007, to support the development of political parties' branches outside of the capital, and to provide resources for youth leadership development in the south of the country.

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