Kyrgyz parliament approves date for referendum on constitutional changes

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BISHKEK (TCA) — The parliament of Kyrgyzstan on November 2 by a majority of votes approved in the third and final reading the law setting the date for a national referendum on December 11 on controversial constitutional amendments.

If passed, the constitutional changes would strengthen the powers of the prime minister, a move President Almazbek Atambayev’s opponents say is aimed at extending his grip on power, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service reports.

The current Constitution bars Atambayev from running for a second presidential term when his mandate ends next year, and critics say the proposed reform would enable him to become a powerful prime minister.

Last week, the Kyrgyz Government resigned after Atambayev’s Social Democratic Party (SDPK) quit the ruling parliamentary coalition because some parliamentary factions refused to support the proposed constitutional changes.

SDPK faction leader Isa Omurkulov said on October 24 that the decision to withdraw from the coalition was made “because of irreconcilable political views.”

Two parties within the collapsed ruling coalition — Ata-Meken (Fatherland) and Onuguu (Progress) — opposed the constitutional changes, which would expand the powers of the prime minister and parliament and reform Kyrgyzstan’s judicial system.

Kyrgyzstan’s current constitution was adopted in June 2010 after mass protests toppled then-President Kurmanbek Bakiev. The referendum that approved the current constitution in 2010 also prohibited making amendments to the text before 2020.

Sergey Kwan

TCA