Kazakhstan moved a step closer January 14 toward extending the rule of President Nursultan Nazarbayev with a parliamentary vote overriding a presidential veto. The move means that a referendum to extend Nazarbayev’s presidential term to 2020 will proceed. Experts expect voters to overwhelmingly approve the extension.
Prolonging Nazarbayev’s term until 2020 would effectively install the 70-year-old leader as president-for-life. A special joint session of both houses of parliament voted unanimously to alter the constitution so that Nazarbayev’s term could be extended.
Voters will be asked if they back the idea of extending Nazarbayev’s term to December 6, 2020. No date has been set for the referendum, but March has previously been mooted for it.
Both houses of parliament had previously voted for the measure but Nazarbayev vetoed it on January 6. Parliament was legally able to override that veto with at least a four-fifths majority in both houses.
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Joanna Lillis is a freelance writer who specializes in Central Asia.