Opposition parties in Kyrgyzstan on Monday accused authorities of stealing their votes in a parliamentary election that was marked by tensions and claims of a coup plot. Several hundred supporters from at least four opposition parties gathered outside the offices of the Central Election Commission in the capital Bishkek, with police watching on. Many raised concerns about an automated count of Sunday’s votes that was hit by technical issues, though international observers said the election had proceeded largely well. In three decades of independence, the impoverished ex-Soviet Central Asian nation has seen three presidents unseated during street protests fuelled by a combination of corruption, crackdowns and anger over perceived election irregularities. Populist leader Sadyr Japarov claimed ahead of Sunday’s vote that a coup attempt was being planned, and 15 people were detained. Results based on a near-complete automated count on Sunday evening showed six parties entering parliament, with most expected to be loyal to Japarov’s government. But that was after the election commission’s website appeared to suffer technical problems and allocate more votes to the 21 parties competing than had been cast during the election. “Votes were stolen from (our party),” Bektur Asanov, a candidate from the opposition Ata-Meken party, told a crowd of around 300 outside CEC headquarters. “We don’t fear arrests. Again we have shamed ourselves in front of the world with these elections.” Officials have offered competing explanations for the website’s failure as votes rolled in, while CEC head Nurjan Shaildabekova offered apologies to the protesters on Monday. “I apologise for the error that emerged on the official site. But I guarantee that our new system is working correctly,” Shaildabekova told the crowd, which whistled as she spoke and called for her dismissal. The crowd dispersed and one opposition candidate, journalist Ali Toktakhunov, said the parties had formed a bloc and given authorities two days to cancel the vote and set a date for new elections. An international vote monitoring mission led by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe did not mention the problem in its statement released on Monday. It said that “election preparations were handled efficiently by the election administration” with voters offered “a wide range of choices” and that the election was competitive. But during the mission’s press conference, observer Audrey Glover called the website event “rather concerning”. “We look forward to hearing from the CEC how and why this happened,” Glover said, responding to a question from a journalist.