The FINANCIAL — According to RIA Novosti, the forthcoming referendum on the new Kyrgyz constitution may prevent further unrest in Kyrgyzstan, interim president Roza Otunbayeva said on June 21.
Otunbayeva earlier said as many as 2,000 people may have been killed in last week's fighting between Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbeks in the southern Kyrgyz cities of Osh and Jalalabad.
Officials say at least 208 people have been killed and over 2,000 injured, according to Kyrgyz 24.kg news agency.
Despite protests from a number of senior Kyrgyz politicians, Otunbayeva said the government would press ahead with the June 27 referendum.
"If you listen to them [those who oppose the referendum], the county will never get out of this whirlpool. Then Kyrgyz won't just be fighting with the Uzbeks, but with each other as well," Otunbayeva told Russian Izvestia daily on June 21.
"We must hold [the referendum], or the country will remain in turmoil."
Otunbayeva said the government was certain that the referendum was the only way to bring stability to the Central Asian republic.
"There is no other way than forward. Any deviation… and we are done for," she said.
Otunbayeva confirmed rumors that she would not run for presidency.
"I will head the government during the interim period; that's all. Other people will run for president. Such are the rules," she said.
Presidential polls in Kyrgyzstan are slated for October, 2011, with the new Kyrgyz leader expected to enter office the following January.
If adopted, the new Kyrgyz constitution will completely reform the Kyrgyz political system, giving greater power to the prime minister. Former president Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who is accused by the interim government of nepotism and corruption, was deposed in a wave of uprisings in the former Soviet republic in April.
The Kyrgyz interim government last week introduced amendments stating that the referendum could be canceled if the state of emergency in its south is not lifted. The state of emergency in Osh has been extended until June 25, while in Jalalabad, where the curfew has already been shortened, it is due to end on June 22.