The article discusses the main threads of the public debate surrounding independent Kyrgyzstan's first constitution, which was passed on 5th May 1993. The introduction outlines the framework of the constitutional process; the strategies of the main players in the constitutional game are then reconstructed in the next section. The third section presents the issues which provoked the greatest controversy. Section four sets forth the circumstances under which the constitutional compromise was entered into, together with its main component parts. In section five, the reader finds clarification as to why the Basic Law of 1993 was reassessed before it ever came into force. The author analyses the dispute over the constitution through the prism of the game around the distribution of power and its resources within the specific realities of a Kyrgyzstan emerging from the Soviet system. The article takes as its thesis the notion that the form of the first constitution was the outcome of the divergent aspirations of the main political players and of situational conflicts over grounds other than the constitutional substance itself. It was under these circumstances that a Basic Act emerged which went quite some way toward equalising relations between the organs of state authority. As it transpired, the compromise which had been worked out was short-lived. The reason for the multiple revisions of the Basic Act by means of referenda was not so much the result of defects in the legislation as of the president's fight to maintain and strengthen his authority under conditions wrought by a deep crisis of transformation.
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