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Kyrgyzstan approves constitution promoting presidential powers

MOSCOW (AP) – Kyrgyzstan’s National Electoral Commission says an overwhelming majority of voters have approved a new constitution that significantly increases the powers of the president.

The commission said the results of 90% of polling stations showed that the constitution had been approved by 79% in a referendum on Sunday.

The referendum took place three months after Sadr Parparov was ousted as president, ousting the previous president amid previous protests, the third time in 15 years that a Kyrgyz leader has been ousted in a popular uprising.

The new constitution reduces the size of the country’s parliament by 25% to 90 seats, and the president has the power to appoint judges and law enforcement officials. It also calls for an advisory council that critics say could become a shadow parliament or a tool for pressure on the president.

Last year, Ha Aparov was jailed on charges of kidnapping the governor amid a dispute over a gold mine when he was released after protesters disputed the results of the October parliamentary elections.

Immediately after his release, Aparov mobilized supporters, hurling stones at the ouster of President Suronbay enenbekov, and then assumed the post of interim leader of the nation.

Kyrgyzstan, a population of 6.5 million bordering China, is a member of Russia-dominated economic and security blocs. It accepts the Russian air base and depends on Moscow’s economic support.

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