Kyrgyzstan turned out in favour of a new constitution which could turn the Central Asian state into the first parliamentary democracy in the region, two weeks after bloody ethnic clashes left around 2,000 people dead, DPA reported.
Elections officials said late Sunday more than 90 per cent of the participants in the referendum voted for switching over from a presidential system, and confirmed interim President
Roza Otunbayeva in office until the end of 2011.
"It is a historical day, we have adopted a new constitution," Otunbayeva told a press conference after the polls closed.
With the adoption of the new constitution, she was to receive the powers of a transition period president and also lead the government, she said.
An official government was to be formed after July 10, Otunbayeva added.
Election officials said that participation in the referendum stood at about 70 per cent. Official final results of the elections are expected later in the week.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev expressed doubt over Kyrgyzstan's ability to transform into a parliamentary democracy. Speaking on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Toronto, he said the current Kyrgyz leadership had little legitimacy.
"I cannot imagine very well how the model of a parliamentary democracy can work in Kyrgyzstan," the Interfax news agency quoted Medvedev as saying.
Voting took place amid tight security, with thousands of soldiers and and security forces monitoring the process. Officials said tens of thousands of ethnic Uzbeks who had fled amid Kyrgyz-Uzbek fighting had returned to their home towns to vote.
After the ouster of authoritarian president
Kurmanbek Bakiyev in April and the following unrest, the interim government hopes the referendum will restore some stability to the country and enhance its own credibility.
With the situation in the south of the country still tense, the state of emergency has been extended to August 10. Otunbayeva has assured human rights groups that everything was being done to bring about reconciliation between the two ethnic groups.
Over 2 million people were eligible to take part in the referendum. The proposed constitution would install a German-style parliamentary republic, the first of its kind in Central Asia.