Political analyst: West-Kazakhstan relations not to shake due to extending president Nazarbayev's powers

Kazakhstan, Astana, Jan. 8 / Trend A. Maratov /

The White House and the European Union will maintain partnership relations with Kazakhstan, despite their claims of violations of democracy in case of a referendum on extending the presidential powers, Kazakh political analyst Dosym Satpayev said.

"It is important for the West to make such statements to preserve its status of a fighter for democratic values," Satpayev said in an interview with Trend.

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.

Jan. 4, the U.S. government expressed its attitude towards the referendum, declaring that a national referendum in case of replacement of the presidential election will be a removal from democracy in Kazakhstan.

Such statements were made by the West before, when the issue of assigning the incumbent president Nursultan Nazarbayev with the status of "Leader of Nation" and the opportunity to run for the presidency several times were discussed in Kazakhstan last year.

Such statements made by the West before, when in Kazakhstan last year were the debate on attribution of the incumbent president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, the status of "Leader of the Nation" and the opportunity to run for president an unlimited number of times.

"Kazakhstan became the OSCE chairman in 2010, Kazakh Risk Assessment Group Director, Trend Expert Council member, Dosym Satpayev said.

Last week's national meeting established a group to take the initiative in conducting a referendum to extend presidential powers. According to legislation, initiators of the referendum should collect at least 200,000 signatures from citizens, equally representing all regions, Astana and Almaty. This comes to at least 12,500 signatures in each region.

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.

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.

The joint session of both chambers of the parliament has been already scheduled for January 14.

"The ultimate goal in any scenario, whether a referendum or presidential elections will be held in 2012, is to ensure that the incumbent president to remain in power. Willy-nilly, the U.S. and the EU will have to work with the person in power, "he said.

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.

"Nobody will develop anti-Kazakh rhetoric," he said.

"Everybody will maintain relations with Kazakhstan, with which they established relations for 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. They will have to give up their principles as nobody wants the embargo against Kazakhstan ," he said.

Kazakhstan holds the important strategic position in Central Asia. The country has large oil and gas reserves. A lot of energy routes pass through Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan exports mainly energy resources to Russia, China and the EU countries via Russia and the Caspian countries. Significant investments of the oil and gas companies were invested in Kazkahstan.

Besides mercantile oil and gas interests, there is also a serious geopolitical argument.

"Nobody wants to push Kazakhstan towards Russia, which can use anti-Kazakh policy in its favor. That is why the West is not too strong in its principles," he said.

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