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Kyrgyz Lawmakers Vote For Referendum On Constitutional Change

FILE: Critics say the proposed constitutional changes are aimed at extending President Almazbek Atambaev's grip on power.

Kyrgyz lawmakers have approved plans to hold a national referendum on December 11 on controversial constitutional changes.

The law setting the referendum date passed the third and final reading by a majority of votes on November 2.

If passed, the constitutional changes would strengthen the powers of the prime minister, a move President Almazbek Atambaev's opponents say is aimed at extending his grip on power.

The constitution bars Atambaev from running for a second presidential term when his mandate ends next year, and critics say the proposed reform would enable him to become a powerful prime minister.

Last week, the government resigned after Atambaev's Social Democratic Party quit the ruling coalition because some partners refused to support the proposed constitutional changes.

With reporting by Reuters and Interfax