Kyrgyzstan annuls constitution, hands leader powers

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BISHKEK, Sep 14 (Reuters) Kyrgyzstan's Constitutional Court today overturned changes made to the Central Asian state's constitution last year, handing back powers to President Kurmanbek Bakiyev that he had agreed to cede.

The court was asked by two opposition parliamentarians to rule on the legality of two sets of changes to the constitution adopted by parliament in November and December of last year. The changes were made in the aftermath of street protests against Bakiyev's turbulent rule of the impoverished state.

''The Constitutional Court... cancels the laws revising the text of the constitution of 9 November and 30 December 2006. The decision is final and not subject to appeal,'' the court's chairwoman, Cholpon Bayekova, said.

The ruling means that a 2003 constitution comes back into force, under which Bakiyev has powers to dissolve parliament, appoint the government and most senior posts, including all judges, in this country of 5 million.

The two members of parliament had petitioned the court to make a ruling, arguing that the changes last year had been implemented in chaotic circumstances and calling for a new process to draw up a constitution.

''We should not have used barbaric methods to pass the constitution,'' Kabai Karabekov, one of the lawmakers, told Reuters.

''This will allow all political forces to be included in the process of writing a new constitution.'' Bakiyev swept to power after his predecessor, Askar Akayev, fled the country, which hosts US and Russian military airbases, during violent protests in March 2005 against his rule.

Bakiyev has himself faced repeated protests and accusations that he went back on election pledges to stamp out corruption and tackle poverty.

REUTERS SBC PM1932

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