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UN Envoy Urges New Kyrgyz President To Create Joint Entity For Rights Dialogue

Natalia Gherman, the UN secretary-general's special representative for Central Asia (file photo)
Natalia Gherman, the UN secretary-general's special representative for Central Asia (file photo)

BISHKEK -- Natalia Gherman, the UN secretary-general's special representative for Central Asia, has proposed to Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov the establishment of a UN-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue.

Gherman, who also heads the UN Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia, held talks with Japarov in Bishkek on March 30, according to the Kyrgyz presidential press service.

The sides also discussed reforms initiated by Japarov after he took power following predecessor Sooronbai Jeenbekov's forced resignation in mid-October amid anti-government rallies protesting the official results of parliamentary elections.

Japarov, who assumed power through a chaotic handover whose legitimacy was disputed by critics, won a rapidly organized presidential election on January 10 that coincided with a referendum on a return to a presidential system.

The proposed constitutional changes aim to significantly widen presidential powers and extend the number of allowable presidential terms from one to two.

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The amendments also envisage the creation of a so-called People's Kurultai (Assembly), described as "a consultative and coordinating organ" controlled by the president.

A Constitutional Court would also be created and the number of lawmakers in the legislature reduced from 120 to 90.

Many in Kyrgyzstan have criticized Japarov, saying that he is looking to impose a more authoritarian system of rule by changing the constitution. Japarov has rejected such accusations.

The constitutional amendments are facing a nationwide referendum scheduled for April 11.

Gherman emphasized that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres continues to closely monitor developments in Kyrgyzstan since the October political crisis.

She praised Kyrgyzstan's recent move to allow the transfer of 79 children born to Kyrgyz citizens who joined the Islamic State extremist group in Iraq.

Gherman also expressed UN readiness to assist Bishkek's anti-pandemic efforts.

Japarov assured Gherman that rights and freedoms in Kyrgyzstan, including freedom of speech, as well as all of his country's international commitments are respected, and expressed interest to cooperate with UN entities.

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