Kazakh leader rejects term extension, council to rule

Nazarbayev rejected the idea of extending his term until 2020 in a national referendum that was flatly denounced by the United States.

Kazakh leader rejects term extension, council to rule

Kazakhstan's president on Monday asked a constitution council to examine a proposed referendum on a 10-year extension to his rule, which would allow him to bypass two elections and lead the oil-rich nation unopposed until 2020.

Nazarbayev on Friday rejected the idea of extending his term until 2020 in a national referendum that was flatly denounced by the United States.

Parliament has unanimously approved a referendum that would avert any potential challenge of 70-year-old President Nursultan Nazarbayev in 2012 and 2017 elections for the presidency of Central Asia's largest economy.

The constitutional council, itself headed by the president, said in a statement that it would examine whether the proposal complied with Kazakhstan's constitution and deliver its verdict within a month.

The president cannot sign into law any bill declared unconstitutional by the council. Nazarbayev on Jan. 6 rejected the plan to extend his powers via a referendum, but his veto was overruled by a vote in parliament on Friday.

More than half of Kazakhstan's 9 million registered voters signed a petition calling for the referendum to extend Nazarbayev's rule over the world's 9th-largest country by area.

Opponents of the initiative say Kazakhstan, which has never held elections judged free and fair by international observers, has deserted principles to which it agreed when chairing the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe last year.

Nazarbayev, who has ruled Kazakhstan for two decades, can stand for election an unlimited number of times. His current seven-year term expires in 2012, after which the presidential term will be cut to five years.


Agencies

Last Mod: 17 Ocak 2011, 10:23
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