BISHKEK. Kyrgyzstan's Constitutional Court started hearings today on an appeal by opposition members of parliament against the ratification of an agreement with China that transfers land to China. The representatives of the plaintiffs are the opposition lawmakers, Azimbek Beknazarov, Ismail Isakov and Ishenbai Kadyrbekov. Among the witnesses who backed the agreement, were the speaker of the Legislative Assembly (Lower chamber) of the Kyrgyz parliament, Abdygany Erkebayev, first deputy prime minister, Kurmanbek Osmonov, and foreign minister, Askar Aitmatov.
Opposition deputies argue the agreement signed on August 26, 1999, -- giving China some 87,000 hectare in Kyrgyzstan's Uzenghi-Kuush area -- gave away too much land and that the parliament did not follow proper constitutional procedures in ratifying the deal. The agreement was ratified by the Kyrgyz parliament on May 10, 2002.
The agreement led to mass protests in Kyrgyzstan last year and was partially responsible for the resignation of Kyrgyzstan's prime minister, along with the rest of the government, last May.
Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev has already signed the agreement into law. The government says that the deal over the Kyrgyz-Chinese border was a diplomatic victory for Kyrgyzstan. It is unclear how the constitutional court will rule. However, the court has been backing the government until now in every politically important case.