Azerbaijan, Baku, Jan.22 /Trend/
The EU has noted with serious concern that the Parliament of Kazakhstan decided, on January 14, to adopt constitutional amendments opening the way to extending, through a national referendum, the term in office of сcurrent President.Nursultan Nazarbayev for another eight years, says EU High Representative's (Catherine Ashton) Declaration on Kazakhstan.
The EU takes the view that replacing the normal presidential electoral contests due in 2012 and 2017 with a plebiscite on a single presidential candidate would not be consistent with OSCE principles, reaffirmed in the recent Astana Commemorative Declaration, and would cast serious doubts on Kazakhstan's commitment to promote democracy and political pluralism, says the Declaration.
The EU expects that an important EU partner and OSCE member such as Kazakhstan will abide by accepted international norms on democracy, according to which the political leadership should be either confirmed or replaced through regular fair and free elections, with all eligible citizens having equal opportunities to stand for office and being free to challenge the policies of the incumbent administration.
EU strongly urges President Nazarbayev and the Kazakh national authorities to ensure that free and fair elections will take place according to the current Constitution and international commitments.
A public petition for the referendum has already gotten more than five million signatures. By law, at least 200,000 signatures are needed.
The parliament has already amended the country's Constitution to allow the 70-year-old leader to run for re-election indefinitely.
Nazarbayev has had a tight grip on the Central Asian state since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.