Constitutional change in Central Asia
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Constitutional change in Central Asia book
In a television broadcast on 26 August 2002 Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev informed the Kyrgyz people that he was initiating a new round of constitutional reform. From 4 September a new Constitutional Council would meet to consider ways of making the executive more responsible to the people and ensuring a better distribution of powers between the various branches of government. The sceptical observer might have wondered whether constitutional reform was necessary, given the ongoing political crisis in the country since the shooting of demonstrators in the south of the republic during March. After all, the country had adopted a new constitution as recently as 1992 and had then witnessed further amendments to that text in 1994, 1996 and 1998. Akaev’s justification was couched in terms of the ‘growing pains’ of a new political order making the transition from authoritarianism to democracy. The recent troubles in the south and the failure of the government to tackle seriously the problems of corruption and legal reform required ‘giant steps towards strengthening the people’s power and boosting democratic processes’. In particular it was important to take steps to transform the nature of executive power so as to ensure greater accountability and efficiency in tackling the grave political and economic problems facing the country.1 In other words, the formal explanation for yet another round of constitutional reform focused on the need for making government more accountable and efficient. Informally it might be suggested that the governing elite, unable to find a creative solution to the ongoing crisis, opted for constitutional reform as a means of easing political tension.