Scarred Kyrgyzstan adopts new Constitution

Kyrgyzstan`s new Constitution has won popular support in a referendum.

Osh: Kyrgyzstan`s new Constitution won overwhelming popular support in a referendum, with more than 90 percent of the vote, the country`s electoral commission said on Monday as preliminary results rolled in.

According to results published by the commission on its website after ballots from 90 percent of polling stations were counted, 90.7 percent of voters backed the Constitution and 7.96 percent were opposed.

Full results were expected within two days.

The Constitution establishes a parliamentary democracy in Kyrgyzstan and its adoption is crucial for legitimising the new authorities who took power after the April riots that toppled president Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

The interim government defiantly pressed ahead with the vote despite horrific clashes between minority Uzbeks and majority Kyrgyz earlier this month that killed hundreds and sparked fears of a collapse of the country.

"The new Constitution has been adopted, despite the savage attacks of its opponents," interim leader Roza Otunbayeva said, adding that the referendum legitimises her as a transitional president.

She did not specify the source for her announcement, which came hours after polls closed, but the partial results released by the central electoral commission showed overwhelming approval for the Constitution.

"Today is a very important, historic day for the country. The people have put a full stop to the epoch of authoritarian, nepotistic management," said Otunbayeva.

"Today we reached victory on the path to a true government of the people."

She put turnout at an unexpectedly high 65 percent while the central election commission website said the figure was 69 percent.

Respectable numbers were seen showing up throughout the day to cast their ballots in Kyrgyzstan`s southern city of Osh -- the epicentre of the violence -- with the situation calm and no reports of unrest, a report said.

The authorities temporarily lifted a curfew in the south -- imposed in the wake of the violence -- so that the vote could go ahead.

"I voted `yes` so that the situation gets better. Many Uzbeks have suffered and several members of my family died. I am scared but I came to vote," said Dlora Kazakbayeva, an Uzbek woman, after voting in Osh.

The new Constitution will slash the powers of the president and make the country the first parliamentary democracy in ex-Soviet Central Asia.

The referendum sets the stage for Parliamentary Elections that authorities have scheduled for early September to bring in a permanent government. Otunbayeva will serve as president until 2011 elections.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned that Sunday`s vote could fuel extremism in the volatile central Asian state.

Bureau Report

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