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Unformatted text preview: EDITORIALS Economic & Political Weekly EPW july 10, 2010 vol xlv no 28 9 W ith over 90% of the voters in a referendum in Kyrgyz- stan endorsing a new constitution and approving a switch to a parliamentary form of government, the central Asian republic appears to have put its immediate troubles behind it. The vote has also been followed by the confirmation of Roza Otunbayeva, who has headed an interim government since April, as president of Kyrgyzstan. But the ethnic divide in the country runs deep and the new government will need courage and goodwill to bring the various groups together. Last month, a series of violent ethnic clashes targeting the minority Uzbek community erupted in the Fergana valley and the Osh region in southern Kyrgyzstan, killing hundreds and displacing thousands of ethnic majority Kyrgyz and Uzbeks. The trigger was a local squabble, but it is clear now that there was a larger game at play with the supporters of ousted Kyrgyz president Kurmanbek Bakiyev organising the unrest. The ethnic relations in the south of Kyrgyzstan can only be described as having been uneasy in the near past. The Uzbek, Tajik and Kyrgyz people have been boxed in a rather arbitrary and expedient settlement of borders in the Fergana valley across the central Asian nations of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, which was forced upon them during the early Soviet era under Josef Stalin. Ethnic clashes, therefore, have not been a new phenomenon and have raised their head during periods of political instability. The recourse to ethnic mobilisation has only seen the accentuation of the divides in the ethnically...
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- Summer '10