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Kyrgyz Speaker Cautions Bakiev Over Reform Moves

Legislative speaker Marat Sultanov (file photo) (RFE/RL) October 30, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- The speaker of Kyrgyzstan's parliament, Marat Sultanov, has urged the president to seek compromise with lawmakers instead of calling a referendum on planned constitutional reforms.

Sultanov said there are many drafts of reforms to consider and stressed that it is up to the legislature to decide which one should be retained.

President Kurmanbek Bakiev has threatened to call a referendum in December if no agreement is reached by November 20 on Kyrgyzstan's future form of government.

Addressing parliament today, Bakiev said he will send his own constitutional draft to the legislature in the coming days and urged parliament to consider it as soon as possible. He did not offer details of its contents.

But speaking after the president, Sultanov noted that parliament will hold constitutional hearings on November 1, on the eve of a planned opposition demonstration in Bishkek.

"As of today, there are 20 constitutional drafts," Sultanov said. "Who said that 'such-and-such a draft' is the final one? No one. No one has issued such a verdict yet. The [upcoming] parliamentary hearings are aimed at clarifying which opinion prevails among society, which views prevail among [political] parties, nongovernmental organizations, and parliamentarians."

Bakiev has said he favors a constitution that maintains a strong executive branch.

Lawmakers accuse Bakiev, who was elected shortly after the ouster of long-time President Askar Akaev in March 2005, of reneging on preelection pledges to curtail the power of the presidency.

Sultanov reiterated today that he and a majority of deputies back a constitutional draft made public in 2005 that seeks a better balance between the executive and legislative branches of power.