Expert: Amended constitution of Kyrgyzstan may be excellent example for many countries

Expert: Amended constitution of Kyrgyzstan may be excellent example for many countries

Azerbaijan, Baku, June 1 / Trend V.Zhavoronkova /

If Kyrgyzstan's new constitution is accepted and starts to work, it can be a wonderful example for many countries, Freedom Radio expert on Central Asia Bruce Pannier said.

"I hope it all works out, because if it does, it will provide a splendid example for many countries, starting with Kyrgyzstan's neighbors in Central Asia, Pannier wrote Trend in an e-mail.

Kyrgyzstan is expected to hold a referendum on amendments to the constitution in late June. The amendments affect several areas, the main of which is the change of government in the country to the parliamentary system.

The new draft constitution has been developed by the interim government after the overthrow of Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev in April. Now Roza Otunbayeva is the head of the state.

Pannier believes the new draft of constitution is an interesting document and a bold experiment by Kyrgyzstan, moving to a parliamentary system of government.

Pannier thinks that Kyrgyzstan is the only one of the Central Asian countries that actually has the political maturity to make such a system work at this time.

The strong point in this is the change to a system where the prime minister, selected by parliament, has the real power, he added.

"The draft has provisions that ensure no one party can have more than 65 seats in the 120-seat parliament the draft constitution creates," Pannier said.

He said unlike the other Central Asian states, Kyrgyzstan does have experience with parliaments that included a good number of opposition representatives. Prior to the 2005 parliamentary elections the opposition always had somewhere around 20 to 30 percent of seats in the parliament.

The new arrangement called for in the draft constitution creates a system that makes debate on issues obligatory and helps prevent the appearance of an authoritarian government, he added.

However, in his opinion, the president's role in this system is not yet entirely clear.

The last-minute inclusion of the "transition period" that keeps Otunbayeva as president until January 1, 2012 was a bit troubling just because it seemed to be thrown in at the very end when it was too late for anyone to object, Pannier said.

"However, Otunbayeva's pledge not to run in presidential elections in December 2011 and her quitting the Social Democratic Party to avoid claims of partisanship are hopeful signs that she can be an honest broker in the formation of this new government," Pannier said.

Pannier regards as downside the fact that Kyrgyzstan has many (more than 100) registered political parties and movements. How many will cross the five-percent barrier and get seats in parliament remains to be seen, he said.

But how easy it will be for some of these various parties to reach agreement in this new parliament is the big question, Pannier said.  First Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev dissolved parliament in September 1994 because of the nearly incessant arguments among deputies that delayed passing legislation.

Pannier said one must add to this that Kyrgyzstan has a culture of personal power.

"People there identify more with an individual - Omurbek Tekebaev,  Roza Otunbayeva or  Feliks Kulov - more than with political parties," Pannier said.

The Kyrgyz people will accept the new system if they can see it is doing something that will lead to an improvement in the lives of the country's people, Pannier believes.

If the parliament does turn into a forum of endless debate, accusations and insults the people will turn against the system, he added.

"One must remember that Kyrgyzstan's people have twice in just over five years brought down the government," Pannier said. "The people may not have much patience, meaning this new government needs to act maximum efficiently."

Do you have any feedback? Contact our journalist at [email protected]

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