Kyrgyz president maintains strong presidential powers

Kyrgyzstan's president, in the latest round of his dispute with lawmakers, said Thursday he favored a form of government that maintains strong presidential powers. President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who was elected after an uprising last year, has pledged to hold a referendum to ask voters if they want to weaken the powers of the presidency in favor of parliament. Such a change would require constitutional reforms.

However, Bakiyev has signaled recently that he favors postponing any constitutional changes until 2009. "Recent events in the parliament have led me to believe even more that we need to move toward a form of government where there is a responsible head of state, and polls show that people support it too," Bakiyev said at a Thursday meeting of the Security Council, which oversees the law enforcement and military agencies.

"But one shouldn't confuse it with increasing authoritarianism," he said. Bakiyev has criticized lawmakers for hindering his government's work and said that parliament "has turned into a place of squabbling, tension and instability." Bakiyev has had tense relations with the parliament since coming to power after a March 2005 uprising. The lawmakers rejected several of his nominations for key government posts.

On Thursday, Prosecutor-General Kambaraaly Kongantiyev and Bakiyev's envoy to parliament, Daniyar Narymbayev, criticized parliamentary speaker Omurbek Tekebayev for reportedly saying that Bakiyev "should go hang himself if he is a man." The parliament speaker's remarks were in response to the president's criticism of the lawmakers' spending.

Tekebayev announced Wednesday that he would resign but did not offer any reasons. He was reportedly prevented from participating in the council's meeting Thursday. Kongantiyev warned the lawmakers that the parliament's current relations with the other branches of government could be grounds for dissolution by Bakiyev.

N.U.