03/08/2021, 09.44
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Bishkek opts for 'strong hand', modelled on Russia

by Vladimir Rozanskij

The draft for the new Constitution provides enormous powers to the president. He is the head of the government and the judiciary, and personally appoints the judges and the president of the Supreme Council and the Constitutional Court, similar to the 2020 Russian Constitution. Population distrust of entire ruling class has led to a plebiscite in favour of Sadyr Žaparov.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - The Kyrgyzstan parliament approved at first reading the draft law establishing the referendum on the new constitution of the country. Accepted on March 5, the document provides for an expansion of the faculties of the president, who since January 2021 is the newly elected Sadyr Žaparov (photo 1, together with Putin). Always the most unstable of the ex-Soviet Central Asian countries, Kyrgyzstan is today officially a parliamentary republic, even if the state government system seems rather variable.

Despite the approval, not even the deputies have been able to see the entire text of the new Constitution, which has sparked several discussions in parliament. Not even the most expert constitutionalists were able to analyse the text, much less explain it to public opinion, leaving many doubts.

According to presidential confidant Edil Bajsalov (photo 2), who is also Kyrgyz ambassador to Great Britain, the present task of the administration is "to fully express the popular will, already expressed in the first referendum of 10 January, in which the Current constitution to build a new one around the strengthening of presidential power”.

Bajsalov rejects claims of "usurpation of power", by those who allowed "the forced dissolution not only of parliament, but also of the Supreme Council and the Constitutional Court", referring to the opposition that last October fomented the mass protests until the overthrow of the previous regime.

Bajsalov discussed his theses on currentime.tv in a debate with the deputy Natalja Nikitenko (photo 3), a member of the Ata-Meken fraction, who voted against the referendum. The deputy contested the interpretation of the demonstrations last autumn: "I don't remember - she said - that the crowd on the street was shouting We want the presidential republic! What I do remember were appeals ‘Stop the corruption!’ and ‘We want fair elections!’ besides a generational change of the caste in power, which does not seem to have happened”. According to Nikitenko, a presidential form can certainly be chosen, provided that "a system of checks and balances is envisaged, which are not evident in the project".

The previous constitutional text dates back to 2010, and was approved when the country was in the midst of a stormy inter-ethnic conflict, skipping many institutional procedures. For this reason, Žaparov's supporters today support the need for an "effective guide", which for the opposition is actually a "strong hand" with a dictatorial flavour. Žaparov won the January elections with almost 80% of the votes. Hence Bajsalov's conclusion: "the experiment of parliamentary democracy in our country" has failed.

By all accounts, Kyrgyzstan is in urgent need of profound reforms, especially in the economic field, in order to be able to raise the standard of living of its citizens. Beyond the form of government, the plebiscite in favor of Žaparov is certainly due to the distrust of the population towards the ruling class as a whole. In this way, the president has in fact also attributed the functions of head of government and of the judiciary, personally appointing the judges and the president of the Supreme Council and the Constitutional Court.

These prerogatives, which should be confirmed by the new referendum. They correspond to those decided by the new Russian Constitution of 2020, which is becoming the model for many "satellite" countries. It is no coincidence that Žaparov's first official visit abroad was to the Kremlin, to meet with President Vladimir Putin.

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