Astana, Nov 26 (EFE).- Kassym-Jomart Tokayev began his second term as president of Kazakhstan on Saturday with a pledge to step up changes initiated in the Central Asian country after his predecessor, Nursultan Nazarbayev, was sidelined from the country’s politics.
“Kazakhstan is entering a new stage of its development. Large-scale changes initiated for us began radical changes. A constitutional reform was carried out. All spheres of state life have been renewed,” Tokayev said in his inauguration speech.
Tokayev assumes the Kazakh presidency for the next seven years, but without the possibility of re-election, since the constitutional amendments he himself promoted extended the presidential term by two years but prohibited re-election.
“Thanks to these changes, the faith of the people in a bright future is strengthened,” he added, some eleven months after Kazakhstan was hit by the largest protests in its history and which forced the government to request help from the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a Russian-dominated military alliance of post-Soviet nations.
The June 5 referendum on constitutional amendments “showed full support for the new initiatives. The Kazakhs’ desire for positive change has powerfully driven our work,” he said.
“We will without fail carry out the reforms that have been started to the end,” he added, recalling that the amendments prohibit presidential re-election, which “will open the path to power for new generations of politicians.”
“I’m sure it’s the right decision,” he insisted.
The president stressed that the presidential elections held last week demonstrated that “the interests of the country unite us all.”
Tokayev announced the signing of decrees on the election of deputies to Kazakhstan’s legislative bodies, noting that the presidential elections were the first stage of a “great electoral cycle” aimed at the political modernization of the country.
Elections to the Kazakh Senate (Upper House of Parliament) are scheduled for January 14, 2023.
The upper house of the Kazakh Parliament, with a six-year term, is made up of two deputies representing each region and the most important cities.
Previously, the president of Kazakhstan also appointed 15 senators, a number that was reduced to 10.
In addition, the Kazakh president signed the decree on the elections to the Mazhilis (Lower House of Parliament), which should be held in June 2023.
Tokayev also signed a bill on Saturday to recover Kazakh assets illegally removed from the country.
In the early presidential elections held last week, Tokayev obtained 81.31% of the votes in an election criticized by observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) mission for its lack of pluralism and competitiveness.
The Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs reacted by noting that the observation mission’s preliminary findings statement “lacks objectivity and calls into question the effectiveness of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) as a major institution.”
The ODIHR noted in a communiqué that the elections took place in a “privately competitive political climate,” and stressed the need to “adapt the legislation to guarantee true pluralism.”
Astana considered that the ODIHR statement contained a set of “biased conclusions, typical of ODIHR, which demonstrate a complete unwillingness to recognize the development of the internal situation” in Kazakhstan.