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Kyrgyzstan Constitutional Referendum

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. PITTS. Mr. Speaker, a couple of weeks ago, there was ethnic violence occurring in the emerging Republic of Kyrgyzstan. Today, there is good news about how that nation is progressing towards democracy. On Sunday, the people of Kyrgyzstan held a referendum on the new constitution. Ninety percent voted to establish a new parliamentary government. This would make Kyrgyzstan the only nation in the region to shift its balance of power from an authoritarian style of government to representative democracy.

Despite the recent violence, the interim government was able to conduct the referendum as scheduled and undertook heroic efforts to include as many citizens as possible, with two-thirds of the eligible voters participating. Election officials visited hospitals and refugee camps to ensure that the injured and displaced were not denied the right to a ballot.

The government faces many challenges before the general election this fall and much to be done for Kyrgyzstan to establish a stable government that protects the rights of all its citizens. But the referendum is a good start, and the United States should stand by with assistance and support. 07/

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