Kyrgyzstan readies for referendum

Ballot to be held on Sunday amid fears of renewed violence and low Uzbek participation.

    The interim government's proposed constitution make the country a parliamentary republic [Reuters]

    Osh has been at the centre of the intense fighting between Kyrgyz and a minority Uzbek population that forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes.

    Roza Otunbayeva, Kyrgyzstan's interim president, has said up to 2,000 people may have been killed in the violence.

    Investigation

    Investigators on Saturday began exhuming some of the bodies of those killed in the clashes that were not officially identified before being buried.

    Bakyt Alynbayev, the acting deputy interior minster, said the investigation was "in the interests of the victims themselves" and "necessary for settling the issue of compensation".

    IN DEPTH

     

      Blog: The pogroms of southern Kyrgyzstan
      Q&A: Kyrgyzstan's ethnic violence
      Gallery: Humanitarian crisis
      Inside Story: Days of violence
      Videos:
      Violence and grief in Osh
      Interview with Otunbayeva
      UN: Unrest was planned
      Army accused of murder

    The violence in June followed an uprising last April that led to the overthrow of Kurmanbek Bakiyev as president and the installation of the provisional government.

    Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in the north mostly supported the interim government, while Kyrgyz in the south largely backed Bakiyev.

    Government officials accuse Bakiyev supporters of instigating this month's violence in an attempt to scuttle the referendum.

    Al Jazeera's Clayton Swisher, reporting from the capital Bishkek, said almost a million people have been impacted by the violence.

    "There's a lot of people who won't be able to participate [in the referendum]," he said.

    "That will only further the sense of disenfranchisement amongst the southerners in this country, in particular, the ethnic Uzbeks who want more of a voice from their central government."

    The proposed constitution would make Kyrgyzstan Central Asia's first parliamentary republic.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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