Kyrgyzstan (MNN) — Kyrgyzstan's referendum has passed, following
Sunday's vote. With a new government, will tensions ease and ethnic violence cease?
Joel Griffith of Slavic Gospel Association shared the
implications of the new constitution: "This referendum did indeed pass in
Kyrgyzstan. They've approved the new constitution. It sets the stage for the
first parliamentary democracy in Central Asia. Voters backed the new
constitution by about 90.6 percent."
Since Kyrgyzstan's former president, Kurmanbek Bakiev, was
ousted in April, the interim government fervently pushed for the referendum vote
and October elections, despite ethnic violence flare-ups during the month of
Authorities blamed Bakiev, who is now exiled in Belarus, for
initiating the conflicts that led to bloodshed, according to AFP. Griffith said
as many as 2,000 Uzbeks were killed in the clashes, by unofficial estimates, and
thousands more injured. SGA said up to 800,000 Uzbeks have fled the region.
Around 69 percent of Kyrgyzstan turned out to vote, though
witnesses say Uzbek did not show up to vote.
With such a high turnout and so many in favor of the new
government, Griffith said he hopes this will lessen violence, though he knows
there are still many in the country who support the former president.
Griffith said in other countries plagued with ethnic violence,
peace and stability did not come immediately, if at all, with changes in
So SGA is looking to the church in Kyrgyzstan to offer that
peace and stability in the person of Jesus Christ. Through the recent conflicts,
Christians have distributed humanitarian aid: "The churches have been trying to
do what they can, rendering aid to some of the ethnic Uzbek refugees. They've
purchased about ten tons of groceries and sent that to a church in Jalal-Abad,"
Griffith said. They also sent a second package to the southern city of Osh,
where much of the ethnic violence was concentrated.
As SGA distributes aid, they are shining the hope of
Christ. "The churches do their best to rise above the politics; they're
interested in proclaiming the Gospel. They're interested in proclaiming peace
and reconciliation in Christ. And as they distribute the humanitarian aid,
they're interested in distributing that aid to whoever needs it," Griffith
Pray for the church as they continue to provide aid and hope
to the suffering and embittered Kyrgz and Uzbeks. Griffith said he is thankful
that so far, no one from their churches has been harmed in the conflicts. Several
times believers have faced threatening mobs, but every time God intervened
to protect them. Pray for their continued safety.
If you would like to join SGA in their support of Kyrgyz
churches, you can click here.