Kyrgyz president calls referendum on constitution

Kyrgyzstan's president on Wednesday called a national referendum on changing the constitution to elect the Parliament by party list.

 Kyrgyz president calls referendum on constitution
Kyrgyzstan's president on Wednesday called a national referendum on changing the constitution to elect the Parliament by party list.

President Kurmanbek Bakiyev said the proposed change to be voted on in the Oct. 21 plebiscite is aimed at extracting the country from "a constitutional deadlock."

Kyrgyz politics have been mired in squabbling for more than two years, since an uprising that forced longtime leader Askar Akayev to flee the country and brought Bakiyev to power.

The disputes have obstructed efforts to address poverty and social problems in the strategically important country that hosts a U.S. air base as well as a growing Russian military base.

Under the current constitution, all parliamentary seats are filled by direct election.

"The pivotal change in the constitution will be the election of Parliament on the basis of representation of political parties," Bakiyev said in calling the referendum.

"Members of today's Parliament are not accountable to anyone and this may lead to negative consequences," Bakiyev said.

The move came days after the Constitutional Court voided constitutional changes made last year by Parliament, saying they had been introduced under pressure.

Parliament passed two sets of constitutional changes late last year amid a standoff between Bakiyev and the opposition over the extent of presidential powers. The first changes curtailed presidential powers. But the following month, after Bakiyev threatened to dissolve Parliament, lawmakers reversed the changes, giving back to him the authority to form the Cabinet.

The country's Human Rights Ombudsman Tursunbai Bakir-Uulu said Bakiyev was trying to strengthen his own position and undermine opposition parties.

But opposition lawmaker Melis Eshimkanov said Bakiyev's move could end two years of "pointless political battles" in the country.

Agencies
Last Mod: 19 Eylül 2007, 17:09
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