Kyrgyzstan holds referendum on new constitution
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Last Updated: Sunday, June 27, 2010, 21:13
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.


First Published: Sunday, June 27, 2010, 21:13

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