Leaders and representatives of 11 political parties and 7 non-governmental organizations, including the Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society today made a joint statement criticizing the draft text of the new version of the Constitution. The document stresses that the team of experts omitted the main ideas agreed upon by the Constitutional Council. Another statement with criticism of the draft signed by 8 members of the Constitutional Council was also sent to the mass media today. Former vice president, and a leader of the Arnamys (Dignity) Party, Feliks Kulov, currently serving a jail term, today sent an appeal to the Constitutional court to dismiss the presidential decree on holding referendum. Kulov said that, in accordance with the clause 17 of the current Constitution, nobody has a right to adopt a law, which will restrict the rights of citizens. The draft of the new Constitution version restricts rights of the citizen. For example, according to the draft, a citizen can not apply strait to the Constitutional Council, said Kulov. Opposition regards his arrest and jail as a politically motivated move by the authorities to remove one of the powerful challengers to Akaev.
Another political party, El Unu (Voice of Nation) made a statement today which says that the draft of the version of the Constitution destroys any balance between different branches of power and eliminates possibilities for the political parties to participate in the political life as a social institute. The party proposed to postpone the referendum until the autumn 2003 in order to restore the democratic principles in the Constitution. Several youth organizations also adopted statements addressed to President, Parliament of Kyrgyzstan and to the Bishkek office of the OSCE, criticizing the draft. According to their statements, no main proposals of the NGOs were included into the draft. They asked the OSCE office to support them in organizing a round table on the referendum issues with participation of representatives of the political parties, NGOs and the Government.
RFE/RL Kyrgyz News, January 16, 2003