Kazakh Parliament to evade presidential veto on holding referendum

Azerbaijan, Baku, Jan. 7 / Trend E. Tariverdiyeva /

The Kazakh Parliament will avoid presidential veto on the referendum to change the constitution in terms of extending his term until late 2020, Russian expert on Central Asia, a fellow at the Moscow State University and a member of Trend Expert Council, Stanislav Pritchin said.

"There is the example when in March 2010, the presidential veto was evaded in the issue of providing Nazarbayev with the title of 'leader of the nation', he told Trend over the phone from Moscow. Most of all, the current initiative on the referendum on amending constitution will also be implemented by avoiding the presidential veto. 

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev on rejected the parliamentary proposal Jan. 7 to hold a referendum on amending the constitution in terms of extending his term until late 2020, KazTAG reported.

Earlier, the Senate of the Kazakh parliament supported the proposal of Majlis members, made by them on Dec. 29, at the plenary session held on Jan. 6. It envisaged fixing the national referendum on amending the constitution of the Kazakh Republic by the president and provided an extension to the first President - the national leader - Nursultan Nazarbayev's powers by late Dec. 2020.

According to the law, the president has the right to reject a proposal of the parliament. However, the legislative body may evade the presidential veto. "The parliament may pass a law on making these changes and additions to the constitution by majority of votes, not less than four-fifths, of the total number of MPs of both chambers of the parliament. In this case, the president signs this law and puts it to the republican referendum," the law "Republican referendum, article 17, point 1-1" said.

Meanwhile, on Jan. 6, the initiative group gathered 3.1 million signatures in support of a referendum to extend the powers of the first Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev by late 2020. While maintaining the tempo of collecting the signatures, the group plans to collect 4 million signatures by Jan. 10.

Earlier, in March 2010, Nursultan Nazarbayev refused to sign the bill, which provides him with a lifelong status of leader of the nation. It also excuses him from further criminal and administrative liability for violations of law, and protects his property. The president pointed out that the Majlis had made a similar initiative to further strengthen stability in the country.

The Parliament took into account Nursultan Nazarbayev's refusal from signing the law on June 4, but the Kazakh legislation provides for the law's enforcement, even if the president did not sign it or vetoed it.

As a result, on May 13, the senate of the Kazakh Parliament voted unanimously to adopt amendments to the laws providing the first President Nursultan Nazarbayev with the status of leader of the nation.

Pritchin said that the proposal on extending President Nazarbayev's powers up to late 2020 will be supported by the population in a referendum.

In this case, the time for making a decision to conduct such a referendum was chosen by the Kazakh Parliament very successfully, the expert said.

"The OSCE Summit, held in Astana in December and positioned by the Kazakh side as the main achievement of the country during the period of independence, was that important thing for which Nazarbayev strived. Afterwards, it is not so important, how the West will react to the recent initiative of the Kazakh Parliament," Pritchin said.

President Nazarbayev achieved much in the international political arena. He was able to gather the most influential leaders of the OSCE countries for the first time within 11 years.

The summit, held in Astana on Dec. 1-2, brought together presidents and prime ministers from 56 OSCE member countries and 12 OSCE partner countries, as well as the heads of 68 international organizations. A final declaration was adopted for the first time within 11 years.

The referendum, which is likely to take place without the presidential veto, is the next election, which would result in the perpetual rule of the president.

"I do not think that Western countries will strongly push Kazakhstan to dissuade from making that decision. In any case, President Nazarbayev can always reply that it was not his initiative, but free will of people," he said.

It is partially true. However, the question is whether this is really in the interests of Kazakh people, he said. He said that despite the undoubted contribution made by President Nazarbayev for the establishment of an independent Kazakhstan, the issue of the country's future remains open.

"There was no succession of power in independent Kazakhstan for 20 years. It turns out that the entire chain of power depends on one person. This is a big risk for the country. One should understand that the issue of transferring power threatens the stability of the existing power in the Eastern countries such as Kazakhstan," he said.

That is, even if Nazarbayev prepares a successor today, then he will do it behind closed doors and the successor will be introduced to the people post factum.

"But there are no prerequisites for this yet, because it is difficult to find a person suitable for all the political groups in the country," he said.

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