Kyrgyzstan votes on constitutional reforms expanding president’s powers

Moscow, Apr 11 (EFE).- People in Kyrgyzstan on Sunday began voting in local council elections and a constitutional referendum that could see the former Soviet republic move away from a parliamentary system to a presidential regime.

The referendum could also see the parliament downsized from 120 to 90 lawmakers.

If the changes pass, presidents of the Central Asian republic, including incumbent Sadyr Japarov, will be allowed to run for a five-year term of office twice, instead of a single six-year term.

Japarov, who has already cast his vote along with his wife, rose to power during the October 2020 revolution and won a landslide victory with almost 80% of the votes in the January elections.

International organizations have criticized the constitutional amendments adopted by the parliament a few months ago for granting vast powers to the president, especially because it comes ahead of snap legislative elections scheduled for June 2021.

The results of the October 2020 parliamentary elections were annulled after mass protests broke out in the country amid reports of election fraud from the opposition.

The parliamentary system was the reason why many organizations, analysts, and politicians in the West considered Kyrgyzstan the most democratic country in Central Asia.

A turnout of more than 30% is needed for the referendum to be valid.

A total of 3.6 million citizens are eligible to cast their ballots in more than 2,400 polling stations across the country, according to the Central Electoral Commission (CEC).

The voter turnout at the local elections and the referendum as of 10.00 am stood at 5.19% and 5.04%, respectively.EFE

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