Kyrgyzstan approves constitutional reform


Voters in Kyrgyzstan Sunday (December 11) approved a raft of constitutional changes that strengthen the hand of President Almazbek Atambayev.

Official preliminary results showed voters in the ex-Soviet republic strongly backing the amendments with 79.67% approval.

Only 40% of eligible voters participated, the election commission said.

The vote means the prime minister -- currently Atambayev ally Sooronbay Jeenbekov -- will gain new powers over budget-related legislation and will need neither parliamentary or presidential approval to appoint and dismiss ministers.

The last time the constitution was amended, in 2010, a by-law stipulated that the existing basic law should remain unchanged until 2020. But parliament and the judiciary both endorsed the reforms approved Sunday (December 11).

In October two political parties exited the coalition government led by Atambayev's Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan in opposition to the proposed changes.

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