Kazakhstan, Astana, Jan. 8 / Trend A.Maratov /
The international community and the opposition in
Kazakhstan itself understands that the Constitution must be changed and powers of the presidency extended in order to avoid political instability on the example of neighboring Kyrgyzstan, Kazakh Risk Assessment Group Director Dosym Satpayev believes.
Presidential elections in Kazakhstan are scheduled for 2012, but they can be replaced by a referendum. The only candidate is the current president,
Nursultan Nazarbayev, who is supported by about 90 percent of the citizens. More than three million signatures have already been collected in support of the referendum to extend the presidential powers.
However, on Friday Nazarbayev rejected the proposal of the country's parliament on submission of the amendments to the Constitution to hold the national referendum.
"Nobody wants Kazakhstan to be the second Kyrgyzstan," Satpayev said in an interview with Trend. "Thus, all are ready to accept certain long stay of the current president in the office under the condition that it will later lead to a long-term continuity of the power system that he created."
Kyrgyzstan is experiencing a period of political crisis after former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was overthrown in April. Bloody clashes ensued between the ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbek communities in the country's southern regions. The Kyrgyz parliament approved the new government in Dec. 2010, adopting a parliamentary form of government, as a result of a shift from the presidential form, following the referendum held in summer.
Current government led by Kyrgyz Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev is working to stabilize the situation, which still remains unstable.
"The Kazakh president's refusal of the parliament's proposal on the referendum does not exclude adoption of a decision on its holding," Satpayev said. "Most likely, a joint session of the parliament will be held, which will be another attempt to convince the president of the necessity of holding a referendum."
Despite Nazarbayev's refusal, the initiative group engaged in collection of signatures announced that it will continue to operate as it sees the possibility of legislative overriding the President's veto.
According to the Kazakh Constitution, the president has the right to reject the proposal to hold a referendum, but parliament can override the veto with majority vote in both houses of the parliament.
"Therefore, despite the President's rejection, the question of holding a referendum to extend presidential term remains open," he said.
In 2010, the country observed such a precedent over the law "On the leader of the Nation" when President Nazarbayev rejected the proposal, but did not impose "veto" on it, and the law passed. Nazarbayev was awarded the status of "National Leader" despite his refusal.
Following the adoption of the above law, legitimate question about the appropriateness of the president's participation in the next presidential elections appeared there, as the legitimate mandate of "National Leader" came into conflict with the need to receive regular formal mandate of the trust during the election campaign, Satpayev said. On the other hand, Nazarbayev has nothing to lose, given the warranty of his victory, in case of holding the presidential election in 2012.
"The extension of presidential powers until 2020 or his participation in the presidential elections in 2012 should be regarded only as a tactical tool to achieve a more important goal," Satpayev said. "It is a long-term stability of the political and economic systems, in which not only Kazakhstan's political elite, but also major geopolitical players and foreign investors, are interested."
Kazakhstan has already experienced hosting a referendum to extend the incumbent president's powers, with the 1995 referendum extending Nazarbayev's powers until 1999. The 70-year-old Kazakh president, Nazarbayev, has been in power for over 20 years.