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Kyrgyzstan voters overwhelmingly back new constitution

BISHKEK – Agence France-Presse | 7/2/2010 12:00:00 AM |

Voters in Kyrgyzstan overwhelmingly backed a new constitution in a controversial referendum last week that followed deadly ethnic clashes in the ex-Soviet state.

Voters in Kyrgyzstan overwhelmingly backed a new constitution in a controversial referendum last week that followed 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.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu was also expected to travel to Kyrgyzstan along with other leaders from the region to attend Otunbayeva’s oath-taking ceremony as the interim president of Kyrgyzstan as the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review went to print Friday.

Kyrgyzstan's provisional government – which came to power in a bloody revolt in April, since which it has struggled to impose order – has hoped that the referendum would help legitimize 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 Oct. 10 to bring in a permanent government. Otunbayeva will serve as president until 2011 elections.

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