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Kyrgyzstan votes on constitutional amendments

[JURIST] Citizens of Kyrgyzstan voted Sunday in a constitutional referendum [JURIST report] proposed by Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev [BBC profile] last month. The proposed amendments [RFE/RL report] to the Kyrgyz constitution [constitutional materials, in Kyrgyz] include increasing the number of seats in parliament from 75 to 90 and changing the election of parliament members from a direct election to a proportional. Though Bakiyev has backed the proposed changes [press release, in Kyrgyz], critics have said that the changes would hurt smaller parties and independent politicians in Kyrgyzstan [JURIST news archive] and are designed to bolster Bakiyev's own position. The Kyrgyz Central Elections Commission [official website] said Sunday that the referendum was valid [press release, in Kyrgyz; Itar-Tass report], with some 62 percent of eligible voters turning out. Local organizations including Interbilim and the Coalition For Democracy and Civil Society reported some ballot stuffing near the capital.

Kyrgyzstan has been in political turmoil, with the Kyrgyz constitution being amended numerous times, since former president Askar Akayev [BBC profile] was ousted [JURIST report] during the so-called Tulip Revolution [Wikipedia backgrounder] of 2005. Reuters has more.

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