More than 90 per cent of Kyrgyz voters backed radical changes from a presidential to a parliamentary form of government even as Russia warned the reform could trigger the country's collapse.

In a referendum on Sunday, 91 per cent of voters approved the new Constitution of Kyrgyzstan, the country's election commission said on Monday after counting votes from 90 per cent of the polling stations.

The referendum passed peacefully despite fears of renewed violence in the wake of bloody ethnic riots in the south of the country two weeks ago that claimed at least 2,000 lives and forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes.

The Constitution approved on Sunday would devolve power from the President to Parliament. This will make Kyrgyzstan the first state in Central Asia with a parliamentary form of government. Kyrgyzstan will adopt the new political system this year itself after elections to Parliament are held within the next few months.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, however, expressed doubts about the viability of the new political system.

“Governing Kyrgyzstan today is a tough job… Even today [authorities] lack power to enforce order… I don't really understand how a parliamentary republic would work in Kyrgyzstan,” said Mr. Medvedev. “Will this not lead to a chain of endless problems, reshuffles in Parliament … and ultimately will this not help extremist forces come to power?”

Speaking in Toronto, Canada, after attending the G-8 and G-20 summits the Russian leader warned that Kyrgyzstan faced the threat of “breaking up”. “To avoid such a scenario you need strong, well-organised government,” said Mr. Medvedev.

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