Kazakhstan’s Central Election Fee says voters in a weekend referendum have been overwhelmingly in favor of proposed constitutional amendments geared toward decentralizing decision-making and stripping former President Nursultan Nazarbaev of his “nationwide chief” standing.
The referendum on some 56 proposed adjustments to the structure got here after the nation was rocked by lethal unrest in January that ended Nazarbaev’s longtime grip on energy.
“The referendum might be thought-about validated,” Fee Chairman Nurlan Abdirov mentioned on June 6, citing preliminary outcomes that 77.18 % voted in favor of the amendments. He mentioned turnout was 68.06 %.
So as to be adopted, greater than 50 % of voters in at the very least 12 of the nation’s 17 areas should forged ballots in favor of the amendments.
President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev mentioned the referendum will shift the nation from a “super-presidential type of authorities to a presidential republic with a powerful parliament.”
Nazarbaev handpicked Toqaev to be his successor after he resigned in 2019. The referendum was seen as an try by Toqaev, 69, to formalize Nazarbaev’s “retirement” and guarantee his departure from the political scene.
Nazarbaev, 81, voted within the capital, Nur-Sultan. He was seen in a brief video dropping his poll into the poll field and leaving the polling station with a wave of his hand, however with no remark to reporters.
Authorities opponents had referred to as on Toqaev to postpone the referendum, saying individuals had not been given sufficient time to review the proposals. Others mentioned the voting must be canceled altogether.
Police in Almaty detained Kazakh activist Darkhan Sharipov, who protested towards the referendum, which he mentioned would solely obtain “partial reforms, not political ones.”
In some cities and districts within the Qaraghandy area, the place an RFE/RL reporter visited polling stations and talked with individuals within the streets, not all residents understood precisely what they have been voting for and what particularly would change within the Structure.
In Prishakhtinsk, an space of Qaraghandy, some voters requested members of the fee to acquaint them with the amendments. Ksenia Sinitsyna, secretary of polling station 120, instructed RFE/RL that voters are supplied with info, together with in printed kind, and their questions are answered.
Some voters took the printouts residence to review them earlier than returning to vote, Sinitsyna mentioned.
The adjustments would bar the nation’s president from being a member of a political social gathering whereas holding workplace. Maybe much more importantly, kinfolk of the president wouldn’t be allowed to carry any key positions within the public sector.
That measure is seen as an try to forestall the depth of nepotism that occurred beneath Nazarbaev.
The variety of Senate members appointed by the president can be decreased from the present 15 to 10.
However the president would preserve the proper to nominate the prime minister, the cupboard, the prosecutor-general, the safety chief, the heads of the nationwide financial institution, and the election fee, and different key posts.
The chief govt would additionally retain the ability to nominate provincial governors and the mayors of cities, together with the capital, regardless of widespread calls from public activists for governors and mayors to be elected by voters.
The appropriate to nominate highly effective regional governors is seen as an necessary political device for the president as governors can be utilized to swing an election by controlling the voting course of within the authoritarian nation the place worldwide observers say free and honest elections will not be held.
The one who stands to lose probably the most if the referendum is authorized is Nazarbaev, who led Kazakhstan from 1990 till 2019 and loved important political sway as ex-president till the bloody nationwide unrest in January that left at the very least 238 individuals useless.
The revised structure removes all references to Nazarbaev as “elbasy” (chief of the nation), which might cement his fall from grace that started with calls for by anti-government protesters to finish his household’s grip on the nation’s politics and riches.
The adjustments take away the lifelong immunity for Nazarbaev and his shut kinfolk from prosecution that was assured by the Regulation on the First President of Kazakhstan. Nonetheless, they’ll nonetheless take pleasure in that privilege beneath the final legislation on ex-presidents.
The constitutional overhaul would scale back the quantity or lawmakers within the Mazhilis, or decrease home of parliament, to 98 from the present 107 members.
The Senate would additionally lose its energy to make new legal guidelines however would vote on payments handed by the Mazhilis and in addition to vote to substantiate nominations for prosecutor-general, safety chief, and different key positions submitted by the president.
Many analysts have seen the referendum as a bid by Toqaev to organize for the nation’s subsequent presidential election, scheduled for 2024.
A CIS observer mission — comprising 144 representatives from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan — mentioned the vote was held “in accordance with the legislation.”
Some impartial observers, nevertheless, reported irregularities, in response to RFE/RL. Within the western area, an observer reported that ballots have been within the poll field earlier than the beginning of voting, and RFE/RL reporters have been barred from reporting from some polling stations.
Some observers reported irregularities, in response to RFE/RL. Within the western area, an observer reported that ballots have been within the poll field earlier than the beginning of voting, and RFE/RL reporters have been barred from reporting from some polling stations.
Kazakhstan has been rated “not free” by the U.S.-based Freedom Home NGO, which has mentioned its “parliamentary and presidential elections are neither free nor honest, and main events exhibit continued loyalty to the federal government.”