Kyrgyzstan holds referendum on new constitution

Tens of thousands of Kyrgyz people voted in a national referendum.

Moscow: Tens of thousands of Kyrgyz
people on Sunday voted in a national referendum to end the
political impasse following the ouster of President Kurmanbek
Bakiyev and to decide the legitimacy of the rule of the
opposition parties which seized power last month.

The referendum on amendments to the Constitution was
held amid tight security following inter-ethnic violence
directed against the Uzbek minority in the southern regions of
Osh and Jalalabad, the stronghold of deposed President.

Unofficial estimate claim over two thousand deaths in
the bloody clashes between the rival communities.

More than half of eligible voters had gone to the
polls when reports last came in, the country`s Central
Election Commission said.

Over 2.7 million registered voters were expected to
cast their ballot to decide the fate of interim President Roza
Otunbayeva`s and dissolution of the Constitution Court and
transition to the system of parliamentary democracy.

There is no minimum turnout required to make the
referendum valid.

The vote is an important test of public confidence in
the interim government, which seized power in April after the
violent ouster of President Bakiyev. The new constitution
needs to be approved by 50 per cent plus one of ballots cast
to come into effect.

According to ITAR-TASS the turnout was low in violence
hit Osh and Jalalabad regions although the state of emergency
and dusk-to-dawn curfew were lifted and authorities claim that
almost all of the Uzbek refugees have returned to their homes.

Unlike in the north where by afternoon the turnout was
over 52 per cent, only 30-32 per cent registered voters had
cast their votes in the referendum.

According to reports, the Uzbek community, which had
decided to boycott the referendum, later changed its mind and
decided to vote for the changes as the new system would give
them more say in the parliament.

In all 2,281 polling stations opened across Kyrgyzstan
this morning and 38 polling booths were opened in the
neighbouring republics, including refugee camps in Uzbekistan.

Around 7.5 thousand police officers and the equal
number of volunteers were deployed to ensure security during
the vote.

A total of 189 observers from 18 international
organisations, including the Commonwealth of Independent
States, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the
Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe are
monitoring the polls, RIA Novosti reported from Bishkek.

Moscow and Washington, who have military bases near
the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek, and were involved in rivalry in
Central Asia under the Bush Administration, have given a laud
and clear signal at the last week`s White House summit between
President Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama that any outcome
stabilising the situation in the strategically located
republic would be acceptable to them.


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