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Kyrgyzstan's President Dissolves Parliament


Kyrgyzstan's president has dissolved his country's parliament, a day after a referendum in which voters approved broad constitutional amendments. Anya Ardayeva reports for VOA from Moscow a date for elections has not yet been set.

The head of the Central Electoral Commission said more than 70 percent of voters approved the new constitution in Sunday's referendum, with about 80 percent of registered voters taking part in the poll.

The constitutional changes will eliminate the direct election of individual candidates for parliament, and institute a proportional representation system instead.

Observers say that could hurt the country's smaller parties and independent politicians.

Opponents of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev claim the vote was an attempt by the country's leader to sideline the opposition. They say it will allow his political allies - and his party, Ak Zhol, formed earlier this month - to seize control of the parliament. But President Bakiyev maintains that the changes give more power to the people.

Other changes to the constitution include giving parliament more power in forming the government, and limiting the president's ability to dismiss parliament. It will also increase the number of lawmakers.

Editor-in-chief Fyodor Lukyanov, of Moscow's "Russia In Global Affairs Magazine", says dissolving Parliament is not likely to bring much needed stability to the Central Asian state. "We have seen many different kinds of opposition to Bakiyev's rule emerging and disappearing, and, now, as I know, there is a new opposition movement there against the constitutional changes and against Bakiyev's attempts to strengthen presidential power," he said.

Lukyanov says he foresees further political upheaval in Kyrgyzstan. "I am afraid that we will face many new crises, also many new legislative and political changes in the whole system before Kyrgyzstan will approach a new shape of status quo," he said.

The president has criticized the parliament for blocking reforms and provoking political turmoil. His critics say the parliament should have been dissolved earlier, and that this could have helped to put a stop to political infighting and deal with urgent issues such as crime and poverty.

In 2005, protesters ousted Kyrgyzstan's long time leader Askar Akayev and brought Kurmanbek Bakiyev to power. But instability continued with a continuing standoff between the president and the parliament.

Lukyanov says it is quite possible that the president's decision to dissolve parliament will lead to another wave of protests. "The street protest could be used or not used by people in the establishment fighting each other. In Kyrgyzstan, of course, the background is not very favorable for stability. So, it is quite possible that the politicians will turn to people's protests, which, I think, will be more organized, orchestrated from both than will be, so to say, spontaneous," he said.

Kyrgyzstan is strategically important both for the U.S. and Russia, as both countries have military bases there.

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