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Kazakh parliament passes early polls bill

Kazakhstan`s parliament approved amendments to the constitution allowing President Nursultan Nazarbayev to hold snap presidential elections instead of a referendum on prolonging his rule until 2020.



Astana: Kazakhstan`s parliament on Wednesday approved
amendments to the constitution allowing President Nursultan
Nazarbayev to hold snap presidential elections instead of a
referendum on prolonging his rule until 2020.

The bill amending the constitution was unanimously
approved by the parliament`s two houses and now has to be
signed into law by the president.

"The law puts in place the constitutional framework for
conducting early presidential polls," Talgat Danakov, deputy
chief of presidential administration, said at the joint
session of parliament.

Nazarbayev, whose current term is due to expire in 2012,
on Monday unexpectedly rejected a plan to hold a referendum on
prolonging his rule until 2020, saying that he would instead
call early presidential polls.

The presidential announcement to reject the referendum
plan, which had envisaged scrapping elections in 2012 and
2017, came after rare criticism of the ex-Soviet state by its
Western ally the United States.

The parliament last month said the controversial
referendum should go ahead but the constitutional court
rejected the plan later.

US State Department called the decision to jettison the
referendum plan "the right decision" but critics say that
Nazarbayev`s announcement to call snap elections instead is
merely designed to pacify the West.

Few doubt that Nazarbayev will secure an overwhelming
victory in the polls and analysts say the opposition, which
was caught off guard by the announcement, would simply not
have enough time to prepare for the polls.

The date of the new elections has yet to be announced but
the polls may be scheduled for as early as spring.

In his address to the nation late last month, Nazarbayev
said he was ready to work for as long as required, with or
without a referendum. "I understood the signal of the people
-- do not leave your post, continue work," he said at the
time.

The 70-year-old leader has ruled Kazakhstan, Central
Asia`s largest oil producer and one of the world`s leading
uranium producers, since it became independent from the
Soviets.

Along with Uzbek President Islam Karimov, who rose to
power at the same time, Nazarbayev is the longest-serving
leader in the former Soviet Union.

PTI

From Zee News

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