Kazakhstan – Constitutional amendment still possible

In Kazakhstan the saga of constitutional amendment continues. As reported previously, plans for constitutional reform in December seemed to have been scuppered when President Nazarbaev declined to sign a bill that would, among other things, have given him lifetime immunity from investigation or prosecution. Now, RTE/RL is reporting that another bill has been passed regarding the president’s position.

Apparently, there has been an initiative to collect signatures to support an amendment that would keep President Nazarbaev in office until 2020 or 2022. Any such amendment would require a referendum. Reportedly, 2 million signatures have been collected. It also seems as if the Majlis – the lower chamber of parliament – passed a bill to support the citizens’ initiative on 29 December 29, while the Senate supported it on 6 January.

That said, there is a further report indicating that President Nazarbaev has rejected the proposed bill and any referendum. In other circumstances, such disagreements might be the sign of a vibrant and plural democracy, but the seeming scramble to demonstrate who supports President Nazarbaev the most suggests otherwise in this case.

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