Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has proposed constitutional reforms to limit the powers of his office, saying the country needed to switch from “superpresidential” rule to a presidential republic with a strong parliament.
Tokayev was elected president in 2019 with the backing of his predecessor Nursultan Nazarbayev, who had resigned after running the oil-rich nation for 30 years, but retained sweeping powers until recently.
Nazarbayev gave up his remaining powers as the head of the security council and the leader of the ruling party during and after violent unrest in early January, and his relatives have since lost a number of influential positions in government and state companies.
Last week, the authorities arrested one of Nazarbayev’s nephews in connection with an embezzlement probe, and this week a businessman with links to Nazarbayev’s family was also arrested, local media reported.
Addressing the Central Asian nation’s parliament on Wednesday, Tokayev proposed rolling back some of the legal changes that at the time helped Nazarbayev cement his grip on power.
He called, in particular, for changing the parliamentary election system and re-establishing the constitutional court.
Tokayev also said he wanted to recreate three provinces that were merged with other regions in the 1990s, distance the ruling party from government and reduce the number of parliament deputies directly or indirectly appointed by the president.
Another proposed reform would make it easier to register new political parties by reducing the number of people required to establish one to 5,000 from 20,000.