Kyrgyzstan’s parliament is considering a proposal to call a referendum on extending President Askar Akayev’s term of office until the year 2000 or 2001. The legislature may in fact have little choice in the matter, as the president’s supporters have gathered almost 1.2 million signatures, almost quadruple the number required, on a petition to hold a referendum. But organizing it is up to the parliament, where a sizable minority resists an extension of the presidential term as undemocratic and argues that many signatures were obtained through fraud or intimidation. The minority may attempt to deny the parliament a quorum in order to block the measure. (17)
Under the constitution, Kyrgyzstan’s next presidential election is due in the autumn 1996. Akayev has thus far been content to hide behind his supporters without openly demanding a postponement of the election. Referendums to prolong the presidential term of office were held this year in March in Uzbekistan following a parliamentary decision, and in April in Kazakhstan pursuant to a presidential decree. Most of the other CIS member countries have opted for presidential regimes but without renouncing elections to the post. Akayev fits the type of authoritarian reformer holding the presidential post in most of those countries.
Aral Sea Conference Surveys Soviet-Era Disaster.