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    KYRGYZSTAN RECONFIGURES ITS SOVIET-STYLE PARLIAMENT IN LINE WITH NATIONAL TRADITION

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    BISHKEK, March 1 (RIA Novosti) - The Central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan, which used to be part of the USSR, has reconfigured its Soviet-style legislative branch to bring it into line with national tradition.

    Until now, the republic has had a bicameral parliament, with its 105 members elected from party political lists in electoral regions as well as from single-member constituencies (with the winner in each constituency being the candidate polling the highest number of votes). The new system replaces the two legislative chambers with a single one, 75 members strong. This unicameral legislature is to be formed from candidates who win the highest percentage of votes in single-member constituencies.

    Vladimir Churov, deputy chair of the CIS Affairs Committee in the State Duma, or Russia's lower house of parliament, monitored this Sunday's legislative election in Kyrgyzstan as part of an international CIS observer mission. Commenting on the ballot, he said that "general principles of democracy can only work if national particularities are taken into account. And if these are overlooked, the result will be the same as in Afghanistan, where there was an attempt to impose the Soviet version of democracy in the 1980s, or like what the US is now facing in Iraq."

    Mr. Churov quoted a high-ranking Kyrgyz politician as saying: "We have seen the old Russian administrative system's irrelevance in the modern-day environment, and decided therefore to switch over to the tribal principle of forming legislative bodies, one that is more natural to the Kyrgyz people."

    This principle did indeed reflect itself in the latest parliamentary ballot, Mr. Churov said. Among the winners of the first round of voting, there are quite a few names with the nobiliary particles "bai" and "bek." There is nothing wrong about parliament being formed from representatives of tribes that enjoy centuries-old popular respect, the Russian MP remarked.

    Assessing Sunday's votingfrom the point of view of compliance with democratic principles, Mr. Churov said he had been visiting polling stations throughout Election Day and that he had personally interviewed 200 observers representing candidates and public organizations of Kyrgyzstan. "No serious criticisms or complaints came from them," he reported.

    On the other hand, the observer missions of the CIS and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have given a different appraisal to the election, Mr. Churov said. The CIS team has assessed it as "legitimate, free and transparent" whereas their OSCE counterparts have concluded that it fell short of OSCE and other international electoral standards.

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