Kazakhstan president pledges more democratic freedoms in first state of nation address

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NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — President Kasym-Jomart Tokayev on September 2 delivered a State of the Nation Address at the joint session of both chambers of the Kazakh Parliament and presented his vision for the further development of Kazakhstan.

The head of state proposed a number of initiatives aimed at improving the efficiency of public administration, ensuring the rights, freedoms and security of citizens, creating a developed and inclusive economy, modernizing social security of the population, as well as strengthening the country’s regions, the president’s official website said.

In his first state-of-the-nation address following his election in June, Tokayev promised to support political competition and pluralism in the country.

He said that future elections “must pave the way for the development of a multiparty system” in the country and called on local authorities to allow citizens to hold peaceful demonstrations to express their views and opinion freely, RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service reported.

“If the goals of peaceful actions are to not violate the law and disturb other citizens, then such actions must be allowed to be organized and special places must be defined for such events, which must not be in city suburbs,” Tokayev said.

He added though that “any calls for unconstitutional actions and hooliganism will be prevented in a legal way.”

The next parliamentary and local elections are scheduled for 2021.

Tokayev won a presidential election on June 9 after Kazakhstan’s longtime ruler, Nursultan Nazarbayev, abruptly resigned in March and named the 66-year-old as his successor.

Since taking the reins of power, Tokayev has renamed Astana, the capital, as Nur-Sultan, after his predecessor, and proposed Nazarbayev’s eldest daughter, Darigha Nazarbayeva, as the chairwoman of the parliament’s upper chamber, the Senate.

On September 2, the members of the Senate reelected 56-year-old Nazarbayeva as the chairwoman after she was nominated by Tokayev again. According to the Kazakh Constitution, the Senate’s speaker becomes the country’s leader if the president is either unable to carry out his duties or resigns.

In recent weeks, police have allowed dozens of small rallies and pickets across the country. This comes in sharp contrast to their actions around Tokayev’s election victory, when protests were violently dispersed and hundreds of people detained, some of whom were later either jailed for several days or fined for taking part in unsanctioned rallies.

Sergey Kwan

TCA