The meeting, called a "kurultai," was also attended by members of leading nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), intellectuals, and ordinary voters. It was called by the Public Parliament, an umbrella bloc of several opposition parties and NGOs.
The parties who organized the kurultai feel the promises of the March 2005 Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan have gone unfulfilled and that they have been marginalized by the government that emerged after those events.
According to Azimbek Beknazarov, leader of the opposition Asaba (Flag) party, the resolution adopted on April 12 states that Kyrgyzstan is "in a grave political, social, and economic situation because of the establishment of an unfair, inhumane, and irresponsible power system in the country." The resolution urges President Kurmanbek Bakiev to "carry out urgent measures in order to improve the lives of ordinary people, to stop the rise in prices, and ensure economic growth."
The Kyrgyz authorities rejected the demands, saying the current constitution was adopted with the support of almost 80 percent of Kyrgyz voters and that only another referendum can change or amend it.
The head of the presidential press service, Dosaly Esenaliev, defended the government's performance and criticized the opposition congress.
"If there had been reasoned, constructive proposals, it would have been OK," Esenaliev told RFE/RL's correspondent in Bishkek. "But there was just criticism, of course. It is a phenomenon in democratic societies. However, today's efforts by the government are working in the direction of lessening the negative impact of the ongoing economic crisis in the world on Kyrgyzstan."
Temir Sariev, a former lawmaker and now co-chairman of the For Justice movement, told RFE/RL ahead of the meeting that there are three "big headaches" in which the opposition is critical of the government's performance so far. "They are like a three-headed dragon," he said. "First, corruption; second, poverty; third, unemployment. We will discuss ways of resolving these three ills."
Excluded From Power
Kyrgyz Justice Minister Marat Kaiypov said on April 12 that the kurultai has no legal authority.
"Our constitution allows [citizens] to convene a kurultai," Kaiypov said. "However, when the kurultai is to be convened [there are questions that need to be answered] -- what issues will be discussed, where it will be held, who will convene it, and what power do their decisions have? Such questions have to be defined by the law. Unfortunately, there is no law about the regulations of convening the kurultai. They have not yet been adopted."
None of the opposition parties that organized the kurultai won seats in the last parliamentary elections -- and for the Ata-Meken (Fatherland) Socialist Party that fact is particularly painful. Ata-Meken won enough of the popular vote to claim eight seats but, due to a new regulation adopted just before the December poll, the party had to win half of 1 percent of the vote in every voting district in the country and failed to do so.
RFE/RL Kyrgyz Service Direcor Tynchtykbek Tchoroev and correspondent Bubukan Dosalieva contributed to this report