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Kyrygzstan’s Constitutional Referendum Causing Civil Society-Provisional Government Rift

Kyrgyzstan’s provisional leaders are counting on an upcoming constitutional referendum to foster stability and legitimize the country’s political transition. But civil society activists are complaining that the provisional government’s referendum approach does more to sow doubts than boost confidence in the process.

The referendum is planned for June 27. In addition to the new constitution, voters will be asked to endorse Roza Otunbayeva, the acting head of the provisional government, as president until the end of 2011, as well as approve the abolishment of the Constitutional Court. All three issues are being bundled together into a single yes-no vote.

Many non-governmental organization (NGO) activists have been critical of constitutional drafting process, contending that it took place without sufficient public debate. Some have gone so far as to distance themselves from the referendum process. For example, Tolekan Ismailova, the head of Citizens Against Corruption, a Bishkek-based human rights organization, declined the provisional government’s request to serve as chair the Central Election Commission.

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Kyrygzstan’s Constitutional Referendum Causing Civil Society-Provisional Government Rift

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