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World

Kyrgyzstan to vote on controversial new constitution in April

  • The proposed system brings Kyrgyzstan's constitution closer to other authoritarian Central Asian neighbours and its key ally Russia.
Published March 11, 2021
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BISHKEK: Kyrgyzstan's parliament on Thursday approved a referendum on a draft constitution that will expand the president's powers and allow Sadyr Japarov to run for office again after his term ends.

Only six out of 100 lawmakers present voted against putting the constitutional changes to a referendum on April 11.

The proposed system brings Kyrgyzstan's constitution closer to other authoritarian Central Asian neighbours and its key ally Russia.

It discards the single presidential term introduced in 2010 after two successive leaders were ousted by street protests in favour of two, five-year terms and dilutes the powers of the parliament.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin said he hoped the constitutional reform would bolster stability and bilateral relations when Japarov visited Moscow in his first foreign trip last month.

Japarov is widely viewed as the architect behind the changes and is expected to sign off on the referendum law.

Sooronbay Jeenbekov in October became the third Kyrgyz leader to resign over political chaos, stepping down less than two weeks after crowds took to the streets to contest the results of a parliamentary vote which were later annulled.

Japarov, who was released from jail during the unrest, became interim leader and then president proper after a landslide election win in January.

His proposed constitutional changes are also expected to easily pass.

Critics however have likened the reform to a power grab and say fresh parliamentary elections should have been held instead of extending the mandate of the old legislature.

Japarov has said he expects parliamentary elections to be held this autumn -- a year behind schedule.

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