Kyrgyzstan: The parliament of Kyrgyzstan on Wednesday endorsed plans to hold a referendum on December 11 on controversial constitutional changes for which the country`s president has been criticised.
The proposed amendments, which would grant more power to the prime minister and cabinet, have been attacked by critics as a tactic that President Almazbek Atambayev could use to extend his rule.
Atambayev has repeatedly spoken of the need for constitutional change as the end of his single term in office approaches ahead of elections in 2017.
He has denied he will seek the position of prime minister.
Atambayev's Social Democratic Party quit the ruling coalition last week over other parties` resistance to constitutional reforms, forcing the government to resign and sparking fears the country could be plunged into instability.
The Venice Commission, an advisory body of the Council of Europe rights and democracy organisation, has said the proposed reforms "negatively impact the balance of powers" in government and weaken judicial independence.
Local civic activists charge that the changes could also weaken parliamentary authority and undermine individual rights.
Kyrgyzstan has a reputation as an outpost of democracy in authoritarian Central Asia, but has also suffered bouts of instability.
Autocrats Askar Akayev and Kurmanbek Bakiyev were overthrown in 2005 and 2010 respectively.
Ethnic violence that erupted several months after Bakiyev`s ouster claimed hundreds of lives.
The ex-Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Tajikistan both held referendums this year on constitutional changes that strengthen the power of incumbent autocrats.
In September, Turkmenistan also adopted changes strengthening the position of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov but did not put them to a popular vote.