Former Kyrgyz security chief nominated by his party to run for president

Former Kyrgyz security chief turned opposition leader Felix Kulov was nominated Wednesday by his Ar-Namys party to run for president in July 10 elections in the impoverished Central Asian nation.

Kulov spent five years in jail on corruption charges that his supporters said were politically motivated. He was released in March in the wake of a popular uprising that ousted the ex-Soviet republic's veteran authoritarian leader.

The Supreme Court later acquitted Kulov of all the charges, making him eligible to seek an elected office.

Kulov's main rival in the upcoming ballot is acting President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, one of the key opposition figures behind the March 24 revolt. Kulov rejected Bakiyev's proposal to join his election team as his candidate for prime minister.

Kulov has promised, if he wins, to give Bakiyev the prime minister's position.

Kulov on Wednesday also pledged constitutional reforms to curtail presidential powers.

"The revolution was carried out not just to change the leader but for the sake of institutional changes," Kulov told his party congress.

His nomination brings the number of presidential hopefuls to six so far.

The vote is expected to be a test of the new Kyrgyz authorities' commitment to democracy. None of the elections under former President Askar Akayev's 15-year rule was recognized as free and fair by the international community.

Associated Press

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