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Kyrgyz Interim Government Members Split On Constitution Plans

Kyrgyzstan's Acting Defense Minister Ismail Isakov
Kyrgyzstan's Acting Defense Minister Ismail Isakov
OSH, Kyrgyzstan -- Two key members of Kyrgyzstan's interim government have spoken against transforming the country into a parliamentary republic, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Acting Defense Minister Ismail Isakov made the statement today during a rally in the southern city of Osh at which Roza Otunbaeva, the chairwoman of Kyrgyzstan's interim government, spoke in favor of a parliamentary republic.

Otunbaeva and other leaders in the new government announced their intention to establish a parliamentary republic to preclude a return to the authoritiarian rule that developed under ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiev and his predecessor, Askar Akaev, who was also forced from office after a mass uprising in 2005.

Otunbaeva said at the meeting that recent history "fully showed that [a government based on] presidential power does not work in this country." She added that a parliamentary form of rule is the most appropriate system for Kyrgyzstan.

But Isakov said Kyrgyzstan's constitution corresponds to the realities in the country and that "strong presidential power is needed in the country."

At the same meeting, Azimbek Beknazarov, a deputy head of the interim government, also said he is in favor of Kyrgyzstan maintaining a system with a strong president.

Beknazarov is a leader of the Asaba party and previously served as Isakov's attorney when he was being tried by the previous government for corruption.

The interim government -- which is made up mostly of former opposition party leaders -- came to power on April 7 after antigovernment protesters forced Bakiev to flee the capital.

A constitutional council has been established to work on a draft constitution that is to be finalized and presented to the pubic by May 20. A national referendum on the constitution is scheduled for June 27.