A group of Kazakh non-government organizations have made a request for country's long-serving leader Nursultan Nazarbayev to hold the scheduled 2012 presidential elections instead of signing a referendum extending his term to 2020, RIA Novosti reported.
"We call on the incumbent Kazakhstan president to once again show his commitment to democratic values and hold the scheduled presidential elections in 2012," the Kazakhstan - OSCE 2010 coalition said in a statement.
Last week, Nazarbayev turned down the parliamentary initiative to amend the republic's constitution so as to extend the incumbent president's term to 2020. However, Kazakh deputies said they would try to overturn his veto on Friday.
The head of the Astana city council, Vladimir Redkokashin, earlier described the extension as necessary because "as of now, there is no alternative to Nursultan Abishevich [Nazarbayev], the Leader of the Nation and the president of our country."
"The planned referendum could violate the rights of citizens who want to stand as candidates in the 2012 presidential vote and also those citizens, however small the number is, who want the election to be held," the statement said.
"In this situation the referendum will be illegitimate and pose a threat of political destabilization before society," it said.
Earlier this month, the United States condemned the plans to hold the referendum extending Nazarbayev's powers saying that it would be "a setback for democracy in Kazakhstan."
Nazarbayev, 70, has ruled the Central Asian state for 21 years, as first secretary of the Kazakh Communist Party from 1989, and since the breakup of the Soviet Union as president of Kazakhstan.
In June, the title of "Leader of the Nation" was bestowed upon him by his country's lawmakers. The title gives him a wide range of privileges after the expiry of his presidential term.
The referendum on extending Nazarbayev's presidential term would become the second in Kazakhstan's history. In 1995, his term, due to expire that year, was extended until December 2000.