Kyrgyzstan Proceeds with Referendum Despite Tensions

kyrgyzstan_mapThe interim government of Kyrgyzstan will push through with a referendum for a new constitution even though this may amplify more ethnic tensions.

The proposed constitution would pave the way of whether the country would shift into a parliamentary republic and whether interim president Roza Otunbayeva could stay as president.

It will be the first elections in the country since the ouster of former president Kurmanbek Bakiyev last April. He is currently exiled in Belarus. Some 170 international observers will be monitoring the referendum.

A total of 7,500 police officers and 7,500 volunteers will be present to ensure security during the vote.

The ethnic clash between the Kyrgyz and the country’s minority ethnic Uzbeks led to the death of around 2000 people, though official count only stands at 275. About 1,300 homes were destroyed. Many people, about half-a-million, fled due to the violence. That’s about 10% of the country’s population.

The violence may have stopped but the Uzbek and Kyrgyz populations are still deeply divided.