Political scientist: President Nazarbayev will remain in power under any scenario

Political scientist: President Nazarbayev will remain in power under any scenario

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

Regardless of whether a referendum or presidential elections will be conducted in Kazakhstan in 2012, the outcome is obvious - Nursultan Nazarbayev will retain the authority of president, political analyst and chief editor of Izvestia-Kazakhstan newspaper Eduard Poletayev believes.

"As current president enjoys the absolute support of the population, he will win in any case - whether a referendum or elections," Poletayev said in an interview with Trend.
Presidential elections in Kazakhstan in 2012 can be replaced by a referendum, and the president's powers may be extended until 2020. The only candidate is the current president Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has gained support of about 90 percent of the citizens. More than three million signatures have already been collected in support of the referendum to extend presidential powers.

Unlike other post-Soviet countries, the population of Kazakhstan is not spoiled by the change of political power, said Poletayev, a member of the Trend Expert Council. Kazakhs are inert and support the initiative of holding a referendum, as they have not experienced the severity of the political struggle, a period of anarchy, political uncertainty, and people are afraid of such changes.
A negative example can be neighboring Kyrgyzstan, where every change of first-person of state is accompanied by pogrom, looting and chaos. Therefore, in Kazakhstan population strongly supported the government.

Kyrgyzstan is in a state of political crisis after last April, President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was overthrown.

On Friday morning, President Nazarbayev rejected  parliament's proposal to make amendments to the constitution via Republican referendum.

Despite the president's decision, the initiative group on signatures collection announced that it will continue work as it sees the legal possibility to outdo the veto of president. According to the Constitution of Kazakhstan, the president has the right to reject a proposal for a referendum, but parliament can override the veto of president through voting of a majority in both houses of parliament.
Changes to the Constitution of Kazakhstan will not entail adverse changes in political, economic and social life of the country following the example of Turkmenistan, headed by a permanent leader for 16 years.

Securing the perpetual rule, "the head of all Turkmens", the first President of Turkmenistan Saparmurat Niyazov was in power from 1990 to 2006. The law on presidential elections in this isolated country re-emerged in 2007 after the death of the leader.

Niyazov created his own cult of personality and even issued a so-called holy book - a spiritual guide "Rukhnama", which was necessarily taught at schools.

Gold monuments to "the head of all Turkmens" stood in front of buildings and parks throughout the country. The education system in Turkmenistan got into disrepair during his presidency. School hours were limited in many disciplines, period of teaching at universities and high schools was shortened, as a result of which the students could not enter universities abroad.

"The temptation to have the statues, monuments and a variety of multiple objects named in his honor is great for ambitious people, said Poletayev. - I think that President Nazarbayev has proved that he was a leader already in Soviet times. This is a man that took a severe party school. It's not random man, like those who came to power in the former Soviet Union countries, who could not resist for long. "

The initiative to replace presidential elections with referendum in Kazakhstan did not surprise anybody in the West," said Poletayev.

"Over the past 20 years, the West has well studied the manner of political conduct of President Nazarbayev, his style of governance, said Poletayev. - Having something similar closer to Europe, the reaction would be much worse."
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.

"In our view, it is important for the government and citizens of Kazakhstan to respect their international commitments and continue to ensure free and fair elections," said the statement of the U.S. embassy.
The remaining Western countries, unions and international organizations have not yet expressed their attitude towards the Kazakh initiative.

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