Kyrgyzstan’s proposed new constitution described as a “Khanstitution” for the powers it gives the president

7 months ago Web Desk 0

The draft document posted November 17 on the parliament website envisions widely expanding the president’s powers, reducing the size and roles of the legislature and providing the state with sweeping new abilities to impose arbitrary censorship.


The draft constitution’s token nod to popular representation reportedly lies in formalizing the role of a traditional format called kurultai. The ad hoc forums would see large groups of ostensibly representative members of the public gather to agree on proposals and policy critiques that they would then take to the parliament or president of the day.


Critics of the institution complain, however, that the format is deeply susceptible to manipulation and does not allow for serious and nuanced consideration of national-level policy.


While parliament would be trimmed from its current complement of 120 to 90 deputies, the president would assume charge of the executive branch and determine national and foreign policy. Instead of the currently permitted single, six-year term, a president would be allowed to run for two five-year terms.


There are also potential implications for media, artists and performers, according to Eurasianet. Article 23 suggests that any media content or public events deemed to be “in contravention of generally recognized moral values and the traditions of the people of Kyrgyzstan” will be banned. The concept of what constitutes moral values is not defined in the document.


The backers of the proposed constitution wish to see a referendum on whether or not to adopt the amendments on January 10, the same date on which presidential elections are scheduled, so as to avoid “budget constraints.”


Eurasianet says it is clear that the new constitution has been engineered by parties close to Sadyr Japarov, a firebrand nationalist, who was sprung from prison by his supporters during the violence.


The veteran politician and leader of the Ar-Namys party, Felix Kulov, reportedly described the amendments as a “usurpation of power” and “insanity.”


Former MP Ravshan Jeenbekov called them “a tragedy for the country and for anybody who will become president.”


Current lawmaker Dastan Bekeshev said the new constitution would mark a return to the authoritarianism seen in the time of the former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who was overthrown in 2010.


Human rights activist and long-standing election observer Dinara Oshurakhunova was among many to quip that what had been created could more properly be described as a “Khanstitution,” alluding to the overwhelming powers the basic law would provide the president.


Liberal-leaning political activists angered by the draft document plan to hold a protest rally on November 22.


Source: Asia Plus