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Kyrgyz President Decrees Oversight Board For State TV

November 14, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev has issued a decree seemingly aimed at placating opposition demands that political interference be curbed at the state television broadcaster, MTRK.

But State Secretary Adakhan Madumarov also tacitly rejected political opponents' attempts to see the state-controlled entity transformed into a public broadcaster, saying MTRK should remain the "face of the state."

Madumarov announced Bakiev's decree, instituting a supervisory board to oversee MTRK operations, at a press conference. He said presidential representatives will make up one-third of the new board, and another third will be representatives of the legislature. The remainder will be representatives of MTRK itself.

It was unclear whether the presidential decree would meet the expectations of the opposition, which has made reforming state television a key priority.

Bakiev vetoed an opposition-sponsored bill on September 5 that would have made MTRK a public broadcaster.

Opposition lawmaker Melis Eshimkanov told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service today that the constitution signed into law on November 9 gives parliament the right to reform MTRK without consulting the president.

"In accordance with the new constitution, we have the right to reconsider the draft bill turning MTRK into a public broadcaster regardless of Bakiev's veto," Eshimkanov said. "Should we have the support of 51 lawmakers, we would then be able to transform [MTRK] into a public broadcaster without the consent of either Bakiev or Madumarov."

The bill that Bakiev vetoed in September also sought the creation of a supervisory board, but that body would have included representatives of civil society to fill one-third of its seats.

A number of politicians have pointed to ambiguities in the constitution approved amid public protests in early November that brought thousands of people into the streets in the capital to press for legal and other reforms.

(with additional reports by AKIpress and