BISHKEK -- A new political group in Kyrgyzstan, Committee-93, has called on the Central Asian nation to return to its constitution from 1993 amid protests against a controversial proposal by the interim government to change the current constitution.
The new group held its first session in Bishkek on November 30 at which its members criticized the proposal to change the constitution pushed by Sadyr Japarov, who was named as the country's new prime minister and handed presidential powers in mid-October amid protests against the official results of parliamentary elections that ousted the government and led to the resignation of President Sooronbai Jeenbekov.
The group's members said that by changing the constitution, the current interim leadership is trying to cement power in its hands, while returning to the constitution from 1993 would help ensure a more independent judicial system and parliament needed for the country's further democratic development.
Japarov, who suspended his duties as acting president and prime minister in mid-November in order to be eligible to take part in an early presidential election on January 10, has publicly defended the proposed draft constitution last week.
Japarov said on November 24 that he also wanted a national referendum on the reforms to be held simultaneously with the presidential election, blaming the ongoing political crisis on the current format.
According to the current constitution, the duties of the executive branch are divided between an elected president and a prime minister chosen by parliament.
The controversial draft being considered by the Constitutional Council calls for a single executive -- the president -- along with a smaller parliament and a new body called the People's Kurultai (Congress) that would control the government and parliament.
Rights groups and activists have criticized the draft reforms as a threat to the democratic process by putting too much power in the hands of the president. They also say the current caretaker government does not have the legitimacy to initiate such deep changes.
The publication of the draft constitution on November 17 has triggered several demonstrations in Bishkek, the latest held on November 29.