Kazakh strongman vows reform in new term

President Nursultan Nazarbayev was sworn in for a third decade of his strongman rule.

Astana: President Nursultan Nazarbayev was
on Friday sworn in for a third decade of his strongman rule,
vowing to implement reform in the face of Western criticism of
Kazakhstan`s democratic standards.

Nazarbayev won over 95 per cent in Sunday`s polls but his
crushing victory was marred by complaints from international
observers that the elections fell well short of being free and
fair.

The president took his oath in the Kazakh language,
vowing to loyally serve his people, and the central election
commission then handed him the certificates of office.

"Today is a special day for me. The Kazakhs have made
their historic choice and voted for me and I express my
thanks," Nazarbayev said at the ceremony in the new capital
Astana, whose building he personally masterminded.

In a nod towards criticism that his rule has provided
stability but little semblance of democracy, Nazarbayev
promised to increase the powers of parliament and government.

"We will continue our work for the further
democratisation of society," he said in his address.

"We must find an optimal solution to widen the powers of
the parliament, the responsibilities of the government and to
perfect the electoral system."

He said that the world "does not stand in one place" and
Kazakhstan needed to modernise and pursue a policy of
innovation.

Nazarbayev, 70, came to power while Kazakhstan was still
a Soviet republic and was elected president after it won
independence. Along with Uzbek President Islam Karimov, he is
the longest serving leader in the former USSR.

This will be his fourth term in office, although his
first term was considerably lengthened by a referendum.

Kazakhstan has yet to hold elections deemed to be fully free
and fair by international observers.

Nazarbayev`s advisors have predicted that he will stand
again for another five year term as president in the next
elections in 2016 so long as his health allows.

However his grip on power has left an uncertainty over
the identity of a successor that has concerned investors
although some analysts believe power will be less concentrated
after his eventual departure.

PTI

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