BISHKEK. The Kyrgyz opposition parties and NGOs today held the first session of the Third Gathering (Kurultai) of Kyrgyzstan People in Bishkek. Among its participants were the representatives of such parties as the ‘Atameken’, ‘Arnamys’, ‘Erkin Kyrgyzstan’, ‘Erkindik’, ‘Asaba’, ‘Respublica’, ‘Jangy Kyrgyzstan’ and the ‘Kyrgyzstan’ Democratic Movement Party. About 80 people attended the meeting. There were also representatives of the Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society (Kyrgyzstan) and residents of different regions. The meeting criticized the Government for shortcomings in dealing with the forthcoming referendum issues. According to meeting participants, the Government-backed version of the Constitution aims to strengthen, as they put it, ‘the authoritarian rule of President Askar Akayev’. They appealed to the nation not to support the proposals by the Government and to monitor the referendum at every constituency in order to provide the just and fair voting results. The gathering also appealed to President Akayev to free jailed opposition leader Feliks Kulov and to help to charge those officials responsible for the Aksy shooting, in which police shot dead five participants of the peaceful anti-government gathering in the Aksy district of the Jalalabad region on March 17-18, 2002.
In the meantime, 9 pro-governmental NGOs made a statement supporting the Government-backed version of the Constitution. Among them are the ‘Umai Ene’, ‘Akjol’, Zengibaba’, ‘Bingo’ and others.