Voters Back Kyrgyz Constitution: Official Results

BISHKEK — Voters in Kyrgyzstan overwhelmingly backed a new constitution in a controversial referendum last week following deadly ethnic clashes in the ex-Soviet state, the final vote tally showed Friday.

BISHKEK — Voters in Kyrgyzstan overwhelmingly backed a new constitution in a controversial referendum last week following deadly ethnic clashes in the ex-Soviet state, the final vote tally showed Friday.

In Sunday's referendum, 90.55 percent of voters backed the new charter that would set up Central Asia's first parliamentary democracy, according to the official results released by the election committee.

Just 8.07 percent voted against, on the back of a mass turnout of 72.24 percent, according to the results.

But opposition leaders have said the results were impossibly high given the fallout from this month's ethnic violence that left hundreds of people dead in the south of the country.

The referendum also paves the way for interim Kyrgyz leader Roza Otunbayeva's to be sworn in as president on Saturday, election committee head Alkybek Sariyev said.

"This means the constitution has come into force. Moreover, Roza Otunbayeva is confirmed as president of Kyrgyzstan," Sariyev told reporters.

Kyrgyzstan's provisional government -- which came to power in a bloody revolt in April and which has struggled to impose order on the ex-Soviet state -- has hoped that the referendum would help legitimise its authority.

The new constitution slashes the powers of the president and sets the stage for parliamentary elections that authorities confirmed Wednesday would be held on October 10 to bring in a permanent government.

Otunbayeva will serve as president until 2011 elections.

The impoverished Central Asian state, which saw the violent ouster of its only two post-independence governments, has long been considered the most politically volatile country in the region.

Clashes between ethnic majority Kyrgyz and minority Uzbeks earlier this month in the south of the country killed at least 294 people according to the latest toll, and displaced hundreds of thousands of people.

Source: AFP