By The Canadian Press (CP)
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan — The U.S. Embassy in Kyrgyzstan is calling for sensitivity over ethnic issues as the turbulent Central Asian nation gears up for a key referendum and parliamentary elections.
The embassy said Wednesday that the representation of minorities in Kyrgyz political life was crucial to stability in the country.
Southern Kyrgyzstan was rocked last month by clashes pitting ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbek communities against one another.
Authorities have played down the ethnic angle, claiming the disturbances were orchestrated by forces loyal to deposed President Kurmanbek Bakiyev.
Ethnic Kyrgyz account for 70 per cent of the country's five million people, while Uzbeks make up 15 per cent.
A referendum is planned for June 27 to approve a new constitution, ahead of October's parliamentary vote.
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