Kyrgyzstan moves towards parliamentary democracy

Kyrgyzstan`s governing coalition has elected a parliamentary speaker.

Bishkek: Kyrgyzstan`s governing coalition elected a parliamentary speaker on Friday in a bid to end months of upheaval and violence and build Central Asia`s first parliamentary democracy.

Under the new model of government, backed by the United States but previously criticised by former imperial master Russia, Parliament will be the main decision-making body and the prime minister will assume more power than the president.

Neighbouring Central Asian states Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have centralised, authoritarian presidential systems.

"The main task now is to move quickly to form a legitimate government which will be accountable to us," the new Kyrgyz speaker Akhmatbek Keldibekov told Parliament after his election. "I propose that the chamber should approve a new cabinet."

Deputies were expected to hold a vote on the new government later on Friday.

Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet republic that hosts Russian and US military air bases, held elections on October 10 that resulted in five parties winning seats in a new legislature designed to devolve power from the president to the prime minister.

Ethnic clashes

The vote failed to produce a clear winner in a country where tensions still run high after more than 400 people were killed in June during clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks. Earlier this week three parties -- Ata Zhurt (Motherland), the Social-Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan and Respublika -- formed a governing coalition after a previous three-party grouping had lasted just two days, failing to elect a speaker.

Three failed attempts to build a coalition and elect a speaker and prime minister would have forced interim leader Roza Otunbayeva to dissolve Parliament and hold a new election. Keldibekov, 44, was elected as speaker by a 101-14 vote in the 120-seat legislature. He heads the faction of Ata Zhurt and ran the state tax committee under President Kurmanbek Bakiyev who was deposed in a bloody revolt in April this year.

Keldibekov`s swift election, however, could not hide sharply contrasting views on Kyrgyzstan`s future in the coalition.

Ata Zhurt is strongly opposed to parliamentary rule and was fiercely critical of the interim government during the election campaign. The party`s supporters include many of those who favoured Bakiyev`s leadership.

The Social Democrats are ardent supporters of Otunbayeva`s plan to build the first parliamentary democracy in ex-Soviet Central Asia. Respublika also supports a parliamentary model.

Bureau Report

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