Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 32

The official final returns from Kyrgyzstan’s February 10 referendum showed a 96.5 percent turnout and a 95 percent yes vote to approve constitutional amendments vastly expanding the powers of the Kyrgyz presidency. President Askar Akayev will henceforth have the power to personally formulate domestic and foreign policy, coordinate the functioning of the branches of government, and directly appoint and dismiss cabinet ministers, ambassadors, and judges without consulting the Kyrgyz parliament. The parliament retains the right to approve the president’s choice of prime minister, supreme court justices, the prosecutor general, and the chairman of the national bank. The president may dissolve parliament if it fails three times to approve a presidential nominee. In campaigning for the changes, Akayev presented the expansion of his powers as necessary in order to accelerate economic, political, and legal reforms and to rein in regional and clan influences in the Kyrgyz government. (13)

Akayev announced his intention to hold the referendum immediately upon his re-election December 24, 1995, when he defeated Communist and regional challengers. He has complained that his powers until now were those of a figurehead — comparable to those of the Queen of England — and had disabled him from overcoming parliamentary resistance to reform. The president has announced his highest priorities are to draw up modern legal codes and encourage foreign investment in Kyrgyzstan. In office since 1990, Akayev is in good standing with international lending organizations, which reward him as an economic reformer and guarantor of stability against significant residual Communist groups and divisive regional interests in the country.

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