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Kyrgyzstan approves new constitution

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Interim Prime Minister Roza Otunbeava: "New constitution ... has been approved"
  • Otunbeava: Voting took place without incident, with turnout high at 65 percent
  • Situation was tense Osh, with witnesses saying barricades were down and stations closed

(CNN) -- Kyrgyzstan on Sunday approved a new constitution following a nationwide referendum, the state-run Kabar news agency reported.

The Kyrgyz government's interim head, Roza Otunbeava, told reporters that Sunday's referendum took place without any reported incidents, paving the way for democratic rule, the news agency reported.

"We believe the referendum is valid. The new constitution of the Kyrgyz Republic has been approved," Otunbaeva said.

According to Otunbaeva, the turnout was high at 65.1 percent or 1.7 million voters, Kabar reported.

It will not be an interim but a legal and legitimate government. We are leaving the word interim behind.
--Roza Otunbeava, Kyrgyz government's interim head

"It will not be an interim but a legal and legitimate government," she added. "We are leaving the word interim behind."

Kyrgyzstan -- a multi-ethnic, landlocked nation in Central Asia -- saw an outbreak of brutal riots across its territory in April, which led to the ousting of President Kurmanbek Bakiev, who is now in exile in Belarus.

In the city of Osh, the situation was tense Sunday. Witnesses told CNN that the barricades were down but some polling stations and businesses had closed.

The Kyrgyz and Uzbek were out and about, but the Uzbek had not turned out to vote, according to witnesses.

Whoever wins next year's election would take office in January 2012. The official death toll in the clashes that began June 10 stands at 275, though government officials say the numbers could be much higher. More than half a million people -- about a tenth of the nation's total population -- were displaced, many taking refuge in neighboring Uzbekistan. More than 1,300 houses were burned.

CNN's Brian Walker contributed to this report.