Kazakhstan not to hold referendum on constitutional amendments

ASTANA (TCA) — Speaking to a working group for the constitutional reform on March 1, Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev said that he made a decision to amend the Constitution by the discussion in the Parliament, without submitting it to a referendum, the presidential press service said.

Nazarbayev recently proposed amendments aimed at redistribution of some of the presidential powers to the Parliament and Government of Kazakhstan.

Nazarbayev also recommended that the government and lawmakers should abandon his controversial proposal for a constitutional amendment on private property ownership, saying that “the issue is sensitive and not supported by many people in the country”.

The presidential press service said that Nazarbayev now thinks Article 26 of Kazakhstan’s constitution should not be changed.

Article 26 currently states that “citizens of Kazakhstan” have a right to own private property in the country.

In January, Nazarbayev proposed that the clause be changed to say “everyone in Kazakhstan” has a right to own property.

That change, which was proposed together with other constitutional amendments, has sparked concerns among Kazakh citizens who fear it might permit foreigners to buy and control large tracts of land in Kazakhstan, RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service reported.

Possible land ownership by foreigners and foreign companies became a contentious political issue in Kazakhstan in 2016 when there were large protests across the country against proposed agricultural-land reforms.

More than 1,000 activists were detained during those demonstrations before Nazarbayev in May declared a moratorium on the proposed land ownership reforms.

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Times of Central Asia