BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbaeva has signed legislation that requires all marriages conducted in Islamic, Christian, and other religious traditions to be officially registered in order to be valid, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.
The new law states that marriages conducted in a religious ceremony or at a mosque or church must be officially registered at a state board to be legally recognized.
In Kyrgyzstan, a predominantly Muslim country, many couples are married by an imam in short ceremonies that are not registered with state authorities.
The new law also allows people to marry at age 17 -- one year before the legal age for marriage -- in exceptional situations.
Parliament deputy Ainura Altybaeva, a sponsor of the law, told RFE/RL that such exceptions include when a fiancee is pregnant, or the couple faces a long separation because one of them will work abroad, or the young man must perform his mandatory military service.
Altybaeva said the legal age for marriage can also be lowered to 17 years of age in cases when one of the partners is critically ill and needs to be taken care of.
Read more in Kyrgyz here