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Constitutional referendum begins in Kyrgyzstan

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Constitutional referendum begins in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan election sputnik
Photo: Sputnik

Kyrgyzstan will hold a referendum on proposed constitutional amendments today.

President Sadyr Japarov—elected in January—signed a law approving the vote in March. Among the proposed amendments are articles allowing the president to call referenda, appoint members of the government and supreme court without parliamentary approval and run for a two six-year terms. The amendments also reduce the size of the parliament from 120 members to 90.

Polling suggests that voters will approve the amendments. Despite this, many sectors of Kyrgyzstani society have criticised the measures. Multiple former lawmakers have labeled the amendments as a “return to authoritarianism” that grants Japarov overreaching powers. Consequently, anti-government protests are likely to break out in the capital Bishkek, though they are unlikely to Japarov to rescind the amendments.

Additionally, former president Roza Otunbaeva believes the amendments constitute such an overreach of power that Western organisations may stop providing aid to Kyrgyzstan. While this is unlikely to happen simply if the amendments are approved, if a government crackdown on protesters occurs this cessation of aid will be much more likely. This would likely increase Kyrgyzstan’s economic and political reliance on Russia, increasing the Kremlin’s regional influence.

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