BISHKEK/Oct. 3 (The Conway Bulletin) – Kyrgyzstan effectively stripped former president Almazbek Atambayev of his immunity from prosecution after the Supreme Court ruled it was an unconstitutional benefit enjoyed by Kyrgyz former leaders. The ruling is a victory for President Sooronbai Jeenbekov who has argued with his predecessor and mentor since taking over in December last year. that they have drummed up. The IPO market has weakened over the year, possibly delaying Kazakhstan’s IPO plans, but Kazatomprom’s GDR listing is not enough to give ordinary investors a decent buy-in into Kazakhstan and Kazakh companies.
>>This story was first published in issue 388 of The Conway Bulletin on Oct. 17 2018
SEPT. 22 (The Bulletin) — In what is being described as a major victory by opposition parties in Georgia, Parliament agreed to water-down the ruling Georgian Dream’s planned constitutional changes and allow blocs to contest the next parliamentary election in 2020. Georgian Dream had wanted to ban election blocs. It also ditched plans enforce the so-called Bonus System, which hands all votes from parties failing to pass a 5% threshold to the winning party, from the 2024 election.
— This story was first published in issue 344 of The Conway Bulletin, now called the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on Sept. 24 2017.
— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2017
APRIL 6 2017 (The Conway Bulletin) — >> Armenia has just held a parliamentary election that many observers have said is its most important since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Why?
>> The parliamentary election on April 2 was the first since a referendum in December 2015 that changed the constitution and shifted the balance of power away from the President to the PM and parliament. The constitutional changes don’t actually come into effect until President Serzh Sargysan finishes his second and final term in office next year, but the point is that the parliament elected this month will have more power than any other in Armenia’s independence.
>> What are the main changes in the constitution?
>> Whereas neighbouring Georgia shifted some power to parliament in constitutional changes in 2010, Armenia went the whole hog and will move from a presidential system to a parliamentary one. The president is to become a figurehead with no decision-making powers. Direct elections for the president will also be scrapped, parliament will instead pick him or her. Instead, the PM will be the head of the military, will appoint ministers and will set the various policies. Previously, the President had controlled all the major decisions, including appointing the PM.
>> So why were the changes controversial?
>> There the suspicion that Sargsyan and his allies were trying to tie up power for themselves. Sargsyan is obliged to stand down as President at the end of his second term. The opposition said that he would then try to become PM to retain all his power. We’ll have to wait and see on this. It was certainly convenient for Sargsyan that only his allies and appointees sat on the commission to draft the new constitution and also that it doesn’t come into force until the end of his second term.
>> How has Parliament changed with the new constitution?
>> The number of deputies is being cut to 101 directly elected, down from 131, with four seats being given to ethnic minorities. The 101 seats will also be elected wholly through a system of proportional representation. A second round vote has also been introduced to ensure that the winning party has a parliamentary majority. Opposition members have criticised the reforms as undemocratic but the Venice Commission, the Council of Europe’s constitutional watchdog, gave the changes a qualified thumbs up.
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(News report from Issue No. 323, published on April 6 2017)