International observers have praised Kyrgyzstan’s June 27 constitutional referendum as a “remarkably peaceful process” and highlighted that, under the circumstances, the vote was largely free and fair. Nevertheless, observers say irregularities must be investigated.
The Central Election Commission announced on June 28 that roughly 90 percent of voters cast ballots in favor of a parliamentary republic with Roza Otunbayeva serving as president for a transitional 18-month term. Almost 70 percent of eligible voters participated, the CEC said.
While praising the results, the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) said authorities must still improve the process before holding parliamentary elections this fall.
"The citizens of Kyrgyzstan turned out in large numbers to vote for a new, democratic and peaceful future for their country. It is now up to all political forces to work together to improve the electoral framework ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections and build a democratic society based on respect for human rights and the rule of law," said Ambassador Boris Frlec, head of the observation mission.
The observers reported that in polling stations visited, voting proceeded orderly, although voters were not always checked for ink, an important safeguard against multiple voting. The counting and tabulation were assessed less positively, with commissions at times not being aware of procedures or not respecting them.
Overall, the election commissions administered the process in a largely transparent, collegiate and timely manner.
The legal framework is inconsistent and led to confusion. This included uncertainty over whether there is a minimum turnout requirement in place.
One international observer not affiliated with ODIHR is concerned the international community may overlook violations, fearful of undermining Kyrgyzstan’s fragile stability.
The source described multiple voting and improper counting that could have led to vote inflation in at least one northern precinct.
“It seems that in this unstable environment, election observers do not want to give ammunition to any destabilizing factors,” the source said on condition of anonymity. "One can hope the CEC will investigate problems in order to ensure the vote is as free and fair as it could have been."
But Dinara Oshurahunova, head of the Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society, told EurasiaNet.org that she is happy with the “very transparent” results.
“Active participation of citizens in the referendum surprised me in a good way; I think such active participation was prompted by peoples’ desire to return to legal [governance] as soon as possible,” she said.