Kirghizia Prepares to Hold Constitutional Referendum

The authorities of Kirghizia have begun preparations for a national referendum on introducing amendments to the Kirghiz constitution. 13.5 million soms /approximately 230,000 dollars/ have already been allocated for the campaign, said the press service of the Kirghiz government on Thursday.

It is planned to spend the sum on printing half a million brochures with the new wording of the constitution, 30,000 familiarization posters, and 2,600,000 ballot papers.

Bishkek is going to propose that international organizations, such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, send their observers to the voting.

Kirghiz Prime Minister Nikolai Tanaev is heading the referendum staff, consisting of representatives of ministries and departments.

The date set for the referendum in Kirghizia is February 2. Voters will have to say what they think of the following formulation: "To adopt the law 'On the New Wording of the Constitution', whose draft will be submitted to referendum by the president of Kirghizia" and "Askar Akaev is to remain the president of Kirghizia until December 2005 /when the constitution-set election term ends/ in order to translate into reality positive changes in the constitution".

Several deputies of the Legislative Assembly have pointed out the principled difference between the new wording of the fundamental law put to referendum and the final document prepared by the constitutional conference. They appealed to the people of Kirghizia "not to let themselves be deceived for the umpteenth time".

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