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Kyrgyzstan interim government approves draft constitution

The interim government of Kyrgyzstan on Thursday approved a draft constitution [text, DOC; in Russian] that will shift power from the president to the prime minister. The draft constitution defines Kyrgyzstan as a secular state and limits the president to one six-year term in office. It also increases the number of seats in parliament from 90 to 120. The draft was created by a constitutional committee that was made up mainly of representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and was advised by several international organizations. Several NGO activists disapproved of a last minute amendment to the draft entitled "On the Transitional Period," which extends the transition period until January 2012. The activists hold that the delay is unsubstantiated, and a government run by presidential decree risks corruption. A national referendum [JURIST report] on the draft constitution will be held on June 27 along with a referendum to approve Roza Otunbayeva [Telegraph profile] as "transition president" until elections in December 2011. The constitution will partially take effect upon publication of the referendum results with the remaining laws entering into force upon election of the new parliament.

Last month, Omurbek Tekebayev, part of the interim government that took power amid an anti-government uprising [JURIST report], said the new constitution would guarantee [AFP report] a parliamentary republic and reduce the powers of the president in order to prevent authoritarianism. He said the new constitution will also try to prevent powerful parliamentary majorities by limiting any political party to only 50 seats out of a 90-seat parliament. Under the draft constitution, the party winning the most votes will receive 65 out of 120 seats. The interim government was set up after protesters turned violent between April 6 and 8, resulting in the overthrow of former president Kurmanbek Bakiyev [BBC profile]. The protests, prompted in part by a drastic increase in utility costs, led to at least 84 deaths [Reuters report] and many more injuries. Earlier last month, Otunbayeva launched the interim government [JURIST report] after the violence forced Bakiyev to flee the capital.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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