Kazakhstan holding referendum to amend constitution

Government submits proposed legislation covering massive amendments to constitution council to reform system, says President Tokayev.

Kazakhstan holding referendum to amend constitution

Kazakhstan will hold a referendum to amend 33 provisions of its basic law which constitutes one-third of the country’s constitution, the leader of the Central Asian nation said on Friday.

“To build the new Kazakhstan, we need to completely reform the system of individual and public values," said Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, while addressing the 31st session of the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan.

"We will put a resolute barrier against nepotism and paternalism, corruption and compradors,” he added.

He said that a working paper has been prepared to amend 33 articles of the basic law, which is a third of the entire constitution to make Kazakhstan “the land of justice”.

“The bill on these amendments has been submitted to the constitutional council, which will soon give its verdict,” he added.

Pointing out that the last referendum in the country was held in 1995 to approve the Central Asian country’s current constitution, Tokayev said: “I believe that amending the constitution through a popular vote will be a clear demonstration of the will of the people.”

“The forthcoming large-scale and significant transformations will have a significant impact on the future of the country,” he said.

“That is why I propose holding a republican referendum on amendments and additions to the Kazakh Constitution,” he added.

“I believe that amending the constitution through a popular vote will be a clear demonstration of the will of the people,” he said.

During his speech, Tokayev also recalled massive protests that broke out in January in the country.

“Unity, harmony, and peace are our enduring values. We realized their importance during January’s events. The tragic days are now behind us,” he said.

“We will come to an understanding of the danger that we faced. We could have lost our statehood. Our people must learn the lessons from January's tragedy. We must do our utmost so that such events do not happen again,” he added.

On Jan. 2, massive protests broke out in Kazakhstan over fuel price rise and later escalated into clashes with police, with the most violent incidents taking place in Kazakhstan’s former capital and largest city Almaty.

Kazakhstan’s President Tokayev turned to the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russian-led military bloc, for help, and peacekeepers from Russia, Belarus, Armenia, and Tajikistan came to the country and backed Kazakhstan’s law enforcement in restoring order.

Tokayev also denounced that “external conflicts, which have existed and will exist, will be used to incite inter-ethnic discord and form fault lines among our citizens.”

“Such provocations, unfortunately, do occur, as we have witnessed,” he said.

“However, we must proceed from the fact that provocateurs, no matter where they live, no matter what passports they may have, no matter what clothes they may wear, must not and will not undermine our unity, the right of our state to pursue an independent policy,” he added.

Hüseyin Demir

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