Kyrgyzstan votes on referendum for new constitution

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Kyrgyzstani citizens on Sunday voted on a referendum concerning a proposed constitution ahead of the country's elections this September.

Polls are open from between 0800 and 2000 local time (0200 and 1400 UTC) today, with results of the poll expected to be made public on Monday. According to Kyrgyzstan officials, around 55% of the eligible population had participated in the poll, which was announced in April.

Under the proposed constitution, Kyrgyzstan would move towards becoming a parliamentary republic, with elections for the parliament held every five years, and presidential elections every six years. The president would serve only one term. The current interim government would stay in power until late 2011.

The current president of the country, Roza Otunbayeva, said as she voted that "the people of Kyrgyzstan are proving that the country is united, standing on its feet and going forward. As a people, we want to heal the wounds we have sustained in recent times."

The referendum, which was backed by both the United States and Russia, has been criticized for coming too soon after recent violence in the country by both various human rights groups and opposition political parties within Kyrgyzstan.

The violence was triggered by the overthrow of the former president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, leading to riots in the southern part of the country, which both the government and ethnic leaders blamed the other for.