Approved by parliament, Kazakh constitutional amendments submitted to president for signing

ASTANA (TCA) — On March 6, Kazakhstan’s Parliament approved the law “On Amendments and Additions to the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan” and submitted the bill to the Head of State for signature, the Kazakh presidential press service said.  

The bill will become law once it is signed by President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who originally proposed the constitutional amendments.

Nazarbayev, in accordance with the Constitution’s Article 72, sent the bill to the Constitutional Council for review before he signs it into the law.

The amendments would curtail some presidential powers and redistribute them to Government ministers and the Parliament.

In particular, the Parliament would have the authority to hold a “vote of no confidence” on a sitting cabinet.

The moves have spurred speculation that they may be aimed at facilitating an eventual political transition in Kazakhstan, RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service reported.

Devolving some presidential powers would make it easier for Kazakhstan’s political elite to manage a succession by splitting key roles between different figures rather than allowing one successor to concentrate power in his or her hands.

When he announced plans for the amendments on January 26, Nazarbayev said the president’s role would become that of a “supreme arbiter.”

Serikbolsyn Abdildin, the former leader of Kazakhstan’s now defunct Communist Party, called the amendments “cosmetic.”

He said a “parliament that is controlled by one person will never change.”

Well-known political analyst and journalist Sergei Duvanov also expressed doubts about the practical ramifications of the amendments.

Duvanov told RFE/RL that there “cannot be any essential changes in the parliament’s work as the lawmakers are members of the tightly controlled presidential Nur-Otan party and two other pro-presidential parties.”

Almaty-based political analyst Rasul Zhumaly told RFE/RL that the constitutional amendments make “democratic sense.”

“The changes proposed by the president are in fact very close to democratic principles,” Zhumaly said. But we know that in our country there is a big difference between what was said and adopted as a law and what the actual realities are.”

Sergey Kwan


Sergey Kwan has worked for The Times of Central Asia as a journalist, translator and editor since its foundation in March 1999. Prior to this, from 1996-1997, he worked as a translator at The Kyrgyzstan Chronicle, and from 1997-1999, as a translator at The Central Asian Post.
Kwan studied at the Bishkek Polytechnic Institute from 1990-1994, before completing his training in print journalism in Denmark.

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