The Week Ahead: Kyrgyz people get more power

THE President of Kyrgyzstan, Askar Akayev, called a referendum for Saturday to decide the shape of the country's future parliament. Voters will decide whether they, and not just parliament, will be able to change and add to the constitution by referendum, and whether parliament should be bicameral. The two chambers - a permanent one of 35 MPs and a 70-strong chamber meeting for short sessions - would replace the existing single legislature that meets from time to time.

The Basques hold elections to their regional parliament in Spain on Sunday.

An important issue is the controversial policy of freeing and rehabilitating hundreds of Eta Basque terrorists who repent and compensating victims of attacks by the separatists.

Madrid's softer approach towards terrorists is a tacit admission that its strong-arm measures have failed, but the concessions do not play well with law-abiding Basques.

The former Belgian foreign minister Willy Claes takes over as Secretary-General of Nato today and says he will get down to work without fanfare when he moves into his new Brussels office. His arrival marks the end of a period of limbo during the illness of his predecessor, Manfred Worner, who died of cancer in August. He will have to address Nato's role in providing close air support for UN troops in Bosnia and backing up heavy-weapons exclusion zones with the threat of air strikes. Nato officials are in New York today arguing for a tougher policy on air strikes.

A Romanian court in Bucharest rules on Thursday on a libel case brought by the late dictator's son Nicu Ceausescu against an opposition senator. On Friday the trial resumes of a former Securitate officer accused of illegally arresting four children for spreading anti-Communist manifestos in the days before the revolution of 1989.

The Plain English Campaign holds its third international conference in Washington on Wednesday and Thursday. A 'gobbledegook- shredding' ceremony will be held on Capitol Hill, when complicated and verbose documents will be destroyed.

Yamaha launches its personal karaoke machine on Friday. It shows the lyrics on a computer screen and transmits the song and music through a nearby FM radio.

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