Tokayev calls for constitutional reforms limiting presidential powers

Nur-Sultan, March 16 (EFE).- Kazakhstan’s president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who managed to suppress an apparent coup attempt in the wake of violent protests in January that resulted in 240 deaths, on Wednesday called for a series of constitutional reforms aimed at making the Central Asian country more democratic.

In an address to the nation’s parliament, Tokayev stressed the need to shift from a “super-presidential” republic to a presidential republic with a strong parliament.

“We need verified measures on the restructuring of the political model of development of Kazakhstan. Above all, we are talking about a definitive transition from a super-presidential form of government to a presidential republic with a strong parliament,” Tokayev told lawmakers.

“Today we have the president at the center of everything: this is not right. We must gradually abandon this practice,” he said while acknowledging that “at the initial stage of the country’s development, the super-presidential form of government was justified.”

Tokayev suggested the abolition of a series of presidential powers. In particular, the power to revoke or suspend acts of akims (mayors) of oblasts, cities of national importance, as well as the power to dismiss district and even village akims. The current system, in his opinion, reduces the independence of local executive bodies.

He also proposed the introduction of a law that prohibits immediate family members of the president from holding positions as political officials and quasi-public sector leaders.

Tokayev said that he intended to end the concentration of power in the hands of a single person, so he would resign the presidency of the ruling party, AMANAT, (formerly known as Nur Otan).

He assured that he considers wrong the “fusion of state and political activities” and, therefore, “political domination.”

He also proposed the introduction of a provision obliging the presidents and members of the Central Election Commission, the Recount Commission and the Constitutional Council to leave the AMANAT party. The regional akims will also not lead the party sections.

“The history of democracy is first and foremost a history of improving electoral procedures. It is also a history of monitoring compliance with electoral laws,” Tokayev said.

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