Kyrgystan voted on Sunday to create Central Asias first parliamentary democracy,its interim leader said,in a landmark referendum two weeks after an explosion of ethnic bloodshed.
Roza Otunbayeva said the country had embarked on the path to establishing a true peoples democracy in contrast to previous presidential systems. The new Constitution of the Kyrgyz republic has been approved, she said at a news conference in the capital Bishkek,after earlier voting amid heavy security in the troubled southern city of Osh. We are proud of our people. We are proud of our country,which made this choice at a difficult hour.
At least 283 people,and possibly hundreds more,died this month in violence between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in southern Kyrgyzstan.
Under the new charter,Otunbayeva the first woman to lead a Central Asian state will be interim President until the end of 2011. Parliamentary elections will be held every five years and the President limited to a single six-year term.
The US and Russia say they would support a strong government to prevent the turmoil spreading throughout Central Asia,a region bordering Afghanistan.
The referendum asked voters to support changes to the Constitution that will devolve power from the President to a Prime Minister,paving the way for parliamentary elections in October and diplomatic recognition for the interim government.
Otunbayeva said 65 per cent of the electorate had voted. The central election commission put the figure at 57.74 per cent,although ballot papers were still being counted after polls closed at 8:00 pm local time. No minimum turnout was required.
Otunbayeva,a former ambassador to the US and Britain,took power after a revolt in April overthrew President Kurmanbek Bakiyev. Though from the south,she has struggled to gain control of the region,Bakiyevs family stronghold. In a clear reference to her predecessor,Otunbayeva said,Today the nation said: No to family clan regimes.
From his exile in Belarus,Bakiyev has earlier dismissed the referendum and the leader who replaced him,saying her behaviour was frivolous and irresponsible. She is leading the country into a dead end, he said in an interview in the online edition of German weekly Der Spiegel.