BISHKEK. Polls have closed in Kyrgyzstan's referendum today on a new version of constitution.
The Kyrgyz Central Electoral Commission announced that about 83 percent of the electorate had cast ballots today. A 50-percent turnout is required under Kyrgyz law to make the vote official.
The election also is described as an opportunity for voters to register a vote of confidence in President Askar Akayev.
International organizations have criticized the poll, scheduled 20 days ago by Akayev's government. But the president said today that the new constitution will strengthen democracy in his country.
"Kyrgyzstan is the first country of the CIS member states to adopt a stable constitution for a stable epoch. I think we will strengthen democracy in our country. We will create good conditions in order to protect human rights and the freedom of the people [by adopting the new version of the constitution]," Akayev told journalists at the poll station in Bishkek.
Police in Bishkek detained Omurbek Tekebayev, head of the Public Headquarters For Referendum, and the leader of the Atameken Socialist Party, about an hour before the polls closed today.
Tekebayev told RFE/RL that police accused him and other poll observers from the monitoring bloc of using a car allegedly involved in criminal activities. The opposition has protested Tekebayev's temporary detention. Emil Aliev, a deputy head of the Public Headquarters for Referendum, told RFE/RL that eventually the police freed Tekebayev and others after about four hours of detainment, but this time was crucial for monitoring the referendum procedures. Aliev also was among the detained opposition members.
The Central Electoral Commission's officials said that they weren't aware of that incident. The Head of the Defense and Security Department of Presidential administration, Bolot Januzakov dismissed the news saying that the main object of the detainment was the car involved in the incident, not Tekebayev and Aliev themselves.