Kazakhstan leader seeks snap presidential vote with 7-year term

The president proposes an early presidential election this autumn as well as a snap parliamentary vote in early next year.

Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev
Tokayev says the measures were needed to 'strengthen our statehood' [File: Kazakhstan's Presidential Press Service/handout via AP]

Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has proposed a snap presidential election this autumn and to reduce the presidency to one seven-year term from the current two five-year terms.

In an address to the parliament on Thursday, Tokayev said he will seek a second term and also suggested holding snap parliamentary elections in the first half of 2023.

“I propose that we hold early presidential elections in the autumn of 2022,” Tokayev said, saying measures were needed to “strengthen our statehood” and “maintain the momentum of reforms” after the Central Asian country underwent a political crisis in January that left 225 people dead.

“A new trust mandate of the people is needed for the successful implementation of fundamental and comprehensive reforms on the way to creating a fair Kazakhstan,” Tokayev said.

A presidential vote is due in Kazakhstan in 2024 and parliamentary elections in 2025.

Tokayev said he would move the parliamentary vote forward after the successful referendum on constitutional changes in June which decentralise decision-making and strip former President Nursultan Nazarbayev of his “national leader” status.

Now, due to the changes, the country has set “completely new standards for a political system with fair and open rules of the game”, according to Tokayev.

The term of the presidency would be limited to one term of seven years, he said, from the current two five-year terms.

January’s unrest roiled energy-rich Kazakhstan, one of the most stable of the Central Asian countries that gained independence with the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

Kazakh authorities detained about 12,000 people for their alleged participation in anti-government protests.

Nazarbayev ruled the country for 29 years after it gained independence. In 2019, he stepped down and hand-picked Tokayev as his successor.

Should he win the vote, the upcoming election would strengthen Tokayev’s mandate as an independent leader.

In moves certain to boost public support, Tokayev announced a 17 percent minimum wage increase on Thursday and plans to allocate half of the National Fund investment income to personal accounts of those below 18 which they will be able to use to pay for tuition or to buy homes.

Source: News Agencies