2) Kyrgyzstan has successfully voted to create Central Asia’s first parliamentary democracy

By: Hannah Cochrane

Pace International Law Review, Articles Editor

 In a show of overwhelming support for a new constitution, more than ninety percent of the votes cast June 26th voted “yes” to creating the first parliamentary democracy in Central Asia. The new constitution shifts power from the presidency to the parliament. After all the votes have been counted over 70% of the 2.7 million registered voters came out to the polls.

International observers considered the election to be free and fair despite the vote was considered a controversial one. The referendum is the first once since President Kurmanbeck Makiyev was ousted by massive, violent protests in the capital, Bishkek earlier this spring. Unrest has continued sporadically throughout the country with the worst ethnic unrest coming just days before the election. The southern cities of Osh and Jalalabad were the epicenter of the ethnic bloodshed. Even though the region has roughly equal shares of Kyrgyzs and Uzbecks,  Kyrgyz mobs rampaged the city trashing and burning Uzbek neighborhoods,  causing as many as 400,000 ethnic Uzbeks to flee to neighboring Uzbekistan.

Despite the massive displacement and unrest, the election was a peaceful one without any reported incidents of violence. Boris Frlec, head of the observation mission for Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, praised the interim government and the elections saying, “the provisional government … should be commended for organizing a remarkably peaceful process” and that the referendum was “largely transparent.”

Interim leader Roza Otunbayeva will remain in power until the end of 2011 and now will form an interim government, who will pass the necessary legislation until parliamentary elections in October. After preliminary results were released, Roza Otunbayeva said Kyrgyzstan has embarked on a path to establishing a “true people’s democracy.”

The state holds a strategic position for both the United States and Russia militarily and both countries as well as the United Nations have praised the process as an important step towards keeping stability in the region.

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