Kyrgyz parliament approves bill on referendum to amend constitution

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BISHKEK (TCA) — The parliament of Kyrgyzstan on September 29 approved a draft law on holding a nationwide referendum on constitutional amendments, in its first reading.

The bill received support from 94 lawmakers in favor of conducting the referendum, and 11 lawmakers voted against the proposal.

The draft law still must be approved on its second and third readings by the parliament and signed by President Almazbek Atambayev before coming into force.

The constitutional amendments initiated by the president and supported by a majority of parliament members would, among others, strengthen the powers of the prime minister, reform the judicial system and reduce its powers and authority, and cancel the primacy of international law over the national legislation.   

Kyrgyz civil society activists and opposition groups have criticized the proposed amendments, accusing President Atambayev of seeking to extend his grip on power.

The amendments are also opposed by Atambayev’s former allies — former members of Kyrgyzstan’s interim government of 2010 headed by ex-President Roza Otunbayeva.

The current Constitution of Kyrgyzstan was adopted by a nationwide referendum in 2010, after mass protests ousted then-President Kurmanbek Bakiyev. That referendum also prohibited making amendments to the Constitution’s text before 2020.

KyrTAG news agency reported that the leader of the parliament’s majority coalition, Kanatbek Isayev, said in the parliament yesterday that the referendum on constitutional amendments would be held on 4 December 2016.

Sergey Kwan

TCA