Kyrgyzstan - Local government
The republic is divided into seven administrative regions, plus the capital city of Bishkek. In addition, there are rayons, or districts. Each oblast and rayon has a local administration consisting of a governor, and a local assembly. According to a presidential decree of March 1996, regional governors are appointed by the president to four-year terms, and are responsible for making sure that the local executive and legislative branches cooperate in carrying out state decisions, for upholding law and order, for ensuring citizens' rights and freedoms, for obtaining funds to maintain local government and public property, for adhering to state budget strictures, for ensuring that taxes are collected, for making sure that local pensions and state wages are paid, and for generally ensuring the local welfare. Although in theory answering to the president, in practice some of the governors have become powerful spokesmen for regional interests, and run their districts with considerable autonomy. In October 1999, the first elections of municipal, rayon (district) and oblast (region) assemblies or keneshs took place. A new electoral law called for the candidate who gained a simple majority of votes to be declared the winner, introduced multi-seat constituencies, and dictated that only a Kyrgyz citizen who has lived in a constituency for no less than two years could become an assembly deputy.