Polls have opened in Kyrgyzstan for a referendum on the country’s constitution. A yes outcome would devolve power from the president to the prime minister and pave the way for parliamentary elections in October. It would also legitimise the interim government, who have been in charge since President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was ousted in a revolt in April.
At least 275 people have died in ethnic violence this month in the south, particularly in Osh.
Relations between the Kyrgyz and Uzbeks, who each make up half the population in the south, are still tense. The leader of the interim government, Roza Otunbayeva, had faced calls to delay the referendum because of the violence. However, she refused, saying this would cause even more instability.
Otunbayeva is expected to travel to Osh to vote. Security has been stepped up whilst voting takes place.