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Kyrgyzstan: President Signs New Constitution

Bakiev (right) and Prime Minister Kulov are expected to remain in office until Bakiev's term expires in 2010 (RFE/RL) November 9, 2006 -- Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev signed a new constitution into law today.

The constitution was backed by a more than two-thirds majority of at least 65 legislators in parliament late on November 8. They passed the law in two swift successive readings in a session that lasted less than an hour.

The new constitution will reduce the powers of the president and give parliament more control over the appointment of a government.
MORE: Coverage in Kyrgyz from RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service.

As part of the compromise reached on November 7, Bakiev should stay in office until his term expires in 2010.

The agreement also says that both the current parliament and Prime Minister Feliks Kulov should remain in place until that date.

Today, Bakiev welcomed the new fundamental law as a milestone in the history of post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan. "The present document is a new step in the development of the Kyrgyz Republic's democracy and the perfecting of the constitutional foundations of our state, where there is a strong president, a strong parliament, a strong government, and a mature and responsible civil society," he said.

Its approval is expected to end months of intense political fighting between President Kurmanbek Bakiev and his opponents. Opposition leaders have vowed to send their supporters home as soon as the new fundamental law is adopted.

Thousands of opposition protesters have been demonstrating in Bishkek since November 2 to demand that Bakiev agree on a new constitution that reduces the president's powers, or resign.

(Reuters, AP)

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Central Asia In Focus

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