Kazakh president: Decision to hold referendum on extending presidential powers must comply with Kazakh Constitution
Kazakhstan, Astana, Jan.28 / Trend A. Maratov /
The decision to hold a referendum on extending presidential powers must comply with the country's Constitution and laws. It is also necessary to take into account the people's long-term interests, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said today at a joint meeting of the parliamentary chambers.
"The people's will is above everything in any case," Nazarbayev said.
He noted that a difficult political conflict emerged in connection with the nationwide initiative to hold a referendum on extending presidential powers until 2020.
The presidential elections in Kazakhstan in 2012 can be replaced by a referendum. The president's powers may be extended until 2020. More than 5 million signatures of the minimum required 200,000 were collected in support of the referendum within a few weeks. The Kazakh parliament approved amendments to the Constitution last Friday. But on Monday, Nazarbayev refused to sign the amendments, and submitted them to the Constitutional Council for consideration. The Constitutional Council has not yet named the date for making a decision.
"I am sincerely grateful to all Kazakhs, who put their signatures in support of a referendum, as well as the initiators of the campaign. More than 5 million signatures have been submitted to the CEC by mid-January. The referendum initiative has actually turned into a nationwide movement," Nazarbayev said.
According to a survey, more than 90 percent of the population supports Nazarbayev. Experts agree that Nazarbayev will remain in power regardless of whether the presidential elections or a referendum are held in 2012.
A similar referendum was held in Kazakhstan in 1995 when Nazarbayev's powers were extended until 1999. The 70-year-old Nazarbayev has been in power for over 20 years.
The Nur Otan party created a public coalition of democratic forces named "Kazakhstan - 2020" during the campaign.
"The people's initiative has demonstrated the lasting civic activity in Kazakhstan. It has intensified the political, intellectual life of the country. This indicates the large potential for development and progress," the president said. The head of state assured that Kazakhstan's foreign policy will comply with all obligations previously taken by the country.