ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Kyrgyzstan's Troubles

Can a new constitution and a new government address the ethnic divide in Kyrgyzstan?

With over 90% of the voters in a referendum in Kyrgyzstan endorsing a new constitution and approving a switch to a parliamentary form of government, the central Asian republic appears to have put its immediate troubles behind it. The vote has also been followed by the confirmation of Roza Otunbayeva, who has headed an interim government since April, as president of Kyrgyzstan.

But the ethnic divide in the country runs deep and the new government will need courage and goodwill to bring the various groups together. Last month, a series of violent ethnic clashes targeting the minority Uzbek community erupted in the Fergana valley and the Osh region in southern Kyrgyzstan, killing hundreds and displacing thousands of ethnic majority Kyrgyz and Uzbeks. The trigger was a local squabble, but it is clear now that there was a larger game at play with the supporters of ousted Kyrgyz president Kurmanbek Bakiyev organising the unrest.

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