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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Kazakhstan. A referendum on changes to the constitution. Citizens for the weakening of the president’s power

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In Kazakhstan, a referendum was held on Sunday in which the majority of the country’s citizens supported the amendments to the constitution assuming a departure from the current “super presidential” model. The current president, Kasym-Żomart, Tokayev, who replaced Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has been ruling Kazakhstan for decades, has proposed changes.

Kazakhstan’s citizens voted on 56 amendments to the constitution, mainly concerning the limitation of the powers of the executive. In particular, it was about reducing the powers of the president, as well as giving more prerogatives to the parliament and making it more representative. It also envisages a significant decentralization of power, giving more powers to regional and local authorities.

As reported on Monday by the Kazakh Central Election Commission, 77 percent. voters were in favor of the amendments. The turnout was 68 percent.

Changes in Kazakhstan

Nursultan Nazarbayev was the president of Kazakhstan in 1991-2019, and then, until January 2022, he informally led the state as chairman of the Security Council. In the new wording of the constitution, supported by the Kazakhs, all formal privileges of the former leader were removed, including the removal of the title of “Leader of the Nation” (Elbasa), introduced 12 years ago.

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Kasym-Żomart TokajewREUTERS

President Tokayev, who has been in power since 2019, proposed a package of political reforms after the suppression of the January civil unrest with the help of Russian troops and the removal of Nazarbayev and his relatives from important positions in power. According to some observers of political life, Tokayev’s desire to amend the constitution is related to his plan to seek re-election. His current term will end in 2024.

The referendum is supposed to be a response to the social discontent that in January caused people to take to the streets, calling for change – commented political scientist Dosym Satpaev, quoted by the Reuters agency. As he says, many Kazakhs have been calling for the decentralization of power in the country for several years. “Tokayev understands this and therefore, to some extent, uses this referendum to appear as a man who is trying to make a difference,” Satpaev said.

Main photo source: REUTERS

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