Kyrgyz parliament to debate new constitution

Kyrgyzstan’s parliament will debate the contents of a new constitution today before a nationwide referendum in April. Kyrgyz politics have

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Photo: Vladimir Pirogov/ Reuters

Kyrgyzstan’s parliament will debate the contents of a new constitution today before a nationwide referendum in April.

Kyrgyz politics have been in disarray since October 2020, when parliamentary elections were annulled following widespread protests over corruption and fraud. After months of political unrest, Sadyr Japarov was sworn in as president on January 28. The new constitution proposes a number of sweeping changes that would shrink parliament and shift executive power to the president. It would also create a new People’s Congress, allowing public citizens to propose legislation and further weakening parliament. A January 10 referendum confirmed that 80% of voters support a new presidential system.

Parliament is expected to solidify Japarov’s power by rubber-stamping the proposed changes, given the January referendum. Specifics remain largely unknown to the public, leaving many in civil society fearful of a shift to a totalitarian regime that could see curtailed media freedoms and the institution of moral value codes over rule of law. In the medium-term, the new constitution would make Japarov the sole power in Kyrgyz politics, effectively ending democratic freedoms in the country. While public protests continue in Bishkek against the changes, they are small and unlikely to prevent Japarov’s power grab.

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