Referendum in Kyrgyzstan backs constitutional amendments

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BISHKEK (TCA) — Kyrgyzstan’s Central Election Commission said that 80 percent of voters on December 11 supported constitutional amendments aimed at shifting some presidential powers to the prime minister.  

According to preliminary results, more than 42 percent of eligible voters took part in the referendum.  

On the same day, Kyrgyzstan held elections to local councils. According to preliminary results, pro-presidential Social Democratic Party (SDPK) won a majority of seats in the Bishkek City Council, followed by Respublika – Ata-Jurt and Onuguu Progress.

The approved amendments include a proposal to strengthen the authority of the prime minister while weakening the president.

One proposed amendment would allow the prime minister, with parliament’s approval, to appoint and dismiss cabinet ministers, a power that now rests with the president.

Another amendment enables the prime minister to appoint and dismiss local administration chiefs without waiting for a proposal from the local council, which is currently required.

Under another amendment, the president would no longer chair the country’s Defense Council.

Those proposed changes have fueled long-standing suspicion among some in Kyrgyzstan that the referendum was designed to give President Almazbek Atambayev a way to stay in power — or at least maintain influence — after his presidential term ends next year, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service reported.

Atambayev, 60, has said publicly that he will not seek political office, including the post of the prime minister, after his presidential term ends. But some Kyrgyz political analysts believe that he may intend to continue playing a powerful role behind the scenes.

Sergey Kwan

TCA