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Kyrgyz President Meets NGOs Over Constitutional Reforms

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev (file photo) (RFE/RL) October 27, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Kyrgyzstan's president, Kurmanbek Bakiev, today joined representatives of civil society for discussions aimed at defusing a political standoff over planned constitutional reform.

Addressing participants gathered at a Bishkek hotel, Bakiev said that while he is ready to back a draft constitution that would curtail his powers, he thinks alternative projects should be taken into consideration.

"In view of the recommendations made by a number of NGOs and political forces, I'm ready to take as a basis for discussions the draft prepared by the Constitutional Conference that was published on July 17, 2005," Bakiev said. "However, I think it would make more sense if we waited for the outcome of the [upcoming] parliamentary hearings. I know parliament will not only examine the three other drafts that were prepared under the supervision of [lawmaker Azimbek] Beknazarov, but also other projects that were prepared by various political parties, state administrations, and individuals. In all, there are more than 15 drafts."

During his election campaign in mid-2005, Bakiev pledged to amend the constitution to curtail the powers of the president.

His opponents in parliament accuse him of dragging his feet over the planned reforms in a bid to retain his prerogatives.

The opposition had called for an open-ended protest rally in Bishkek on November 2.

Bakiev warned on October 25 that if no consensus is reached by November 20, he will bypass parliament and put the constitutional issue to a referendum in December.

He also hinted he might ask voters to decide on the fate of the current legislature.

(RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service)

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